Building Trades Academy

A Partnership between North America's Building Trades Unions and Michigan State University

Learn More

About us

Watch the video to learn more about the rich history of the Building Trades Academy and how we work with union staff and leadership to increase capacity and strengthen unions.


The mission of the Building Trades Academy is to provide educational programs that offer useful and practical skill building for Building Trades union staff and leadership and capacity building for their unions.

The learning objectives in the classes offered by the Academy are focused on building the skills, knowledge, and understanding necessary for participants to effectively fulfill specific staff and leadership roles within their unions. To those ends, the Academy offers classes in organizing, negotiating, teaching techniques, and labor law in the construction industry.

These multi-day seminars (depending on the program), led by skilled practitioners and educators, are conducted in an atmosphere of solidarity. Nearly all are conducted in conference/educational centers owned and operated by Building Trades affiliated unions and their union employer partners.

"I loved the class. The instructors are some of the best ever."

- Course participant

Program Schedule


To All Prospective Building Trade Academy Participants:

Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, and in particular the recent surge in cases due to the Delta variant, all participants in NABTU Building Trades Academy (BTA) classes, including instructors, students, guest speakers and any other attendees, will be required to show proof that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at the start of any in-person BTA class or BTA-sponsored event.

For the purposes of the requirement "fully-vaccinated against COVID-19" means at least fourteen days have passed after the attendee has received either (a) the second dose of a two-dose vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) or (b) a one-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson).

If you have any questions, please contact either BTA Executive Director Julie Brockman ( or NABTU Director of Research and Education, Tom Kriger (

Download Memo

Programs Listed by Course Title

BTA 101:
Strategic Planning

BTA 102:
Closing the Deal

BTA 103:
Getting the Word Out

BTA 104:
Campaign Organizing

BTA 105:
Contract Negotiations

BTA 106:
Labor Law for the Construction Industry

BTA 107:
Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3): Train-the-Trainer

BTA 108:
Business Managers Training

Programs Listed by Date and Location


David Alexander

David Alexander, is Adjunct Professor at the University of Oregon's Labor Education and Research Center and has been involved in worker's education for over 35 years. For the past fifteen years, he has been primarily responsible for working with North America's Building Trades Unions, AFL-CIO, in the design and coordination of courses in their curriculum, and is the lead faculty person on the Contract Negotiations in the Construction Industry class. Prior to 2000, David spent twenty years as a full-time staff member at the George Meany Center for Labor Studies, and served as adjunct professor at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Maryland. He has worked with a number of international unions on a variety of educational programs.

John P. Beck

John P. Beck, is an Associate Professor in School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University. He previously served as Associate Director of the School and Director of the Labor Education Program working with unions on their educational needs across the state. Prior to joining the School, he served as the Education and Research Director of the United Paperworkers International Union. He holds degrees from both Michigan State and the University of Michigan where he taught for five years on the staff of the UM Labor Studies Center. He co-directs Our Daily Work/Our Daily Lives, a program at the MSU Museum, which explores labor history and workers culture.

Dale Belman

Dale Belman, PhD, is a professor in the School of Human Resources & Labor Relations at Michigan State University. He conducts research on unions and has forthcoming research on construction unionism (with Allen Smith). Dale has also written about truckers and trucking, public-sector employment, minimum-wage and low-wage work. He received his master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College.

Julie L. Brockman

Julie L. Brockman, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University. She teaches and consults for the Labor Education Program (LEP) and the Union Management Initiative (UMI) for unionized organizations in the private and public sectors. In addition, Julie is the Executive Director of the Building Trades Academy and the Executive Director of the Institute for Construction Economic Research (ICERES).

Prior to joining the faculty at Michigan State University, Julie spent 14 years in labor relations positions with Nestle Chocolate and Confections Company and TRW, Inc. Julie received her BA in Psychology from The Ohio State University, an MA in Organizational Communication from The Ohio State University, an MA in Labor and Industrial Relations from Michigan State University and a PhD in Adult Education from Michigan State University.

Kirk Brungard

Kirk Brungard, the son of a 50-year rank-n-file IBEW member, he spent over fifteen years working as an electrician in Los Angeles before joining his local union staff in 1998 where he served as an organizer, compliance officer, business development representative and assistant business manager. While in Los Angeles, Kirk was also a badged compliance officer for both the Los Angeles Department of Public Works, and the Los Angeles Unified School District. During that period, he also drafted Electrical Safety and Training language ultimately adopted by the Los Angeles Department of Public Works, and eventually various other public awarding agencies.

In 2005, Kirk was named the IBEW's Director of Construction Organizing in Washington, D.C. While in that position the labor organization reached an all-time high in Construction membership.

In late 2009, he joined AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler as her Chief of Staff. After nearly seven years in that role, he transitioned to the Director of the Foundation for Fair Contracting for the Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia region.

Kirk holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Baltimore. He is a regular presenter for various large organizations and a core faculty member of the Michigan State University Building Trades Academy and the AFL-CIO's National Labor Leadership Institute.

Jim Ciment

Jim Ciment, who received his PhD in American economic history from the City University of New York, has taught American history and labor history for over 30 years. He currently serves as an adjunct professor in American and labor history at Cal Poly Pomona, one of the technical and engineering-oriented campuses of the California State University system. He helped develop and taught the labor history curriculum at Empire State College in New York City, a program established in cooperation with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to help union apprentices earn their Associate Arts degrees. He has researched and written on pre-apprenticeship programs in the construction trades, most recently writing up the grant that won NABTU an $8 million, five-year US Department of Labor grant to enhance and expand the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum program (MC3). Ciment also works as an editor and writer and has published several books on economic and labor history.

Kathleen M. Conlan

Kathleen M Conlan, is an educator at heart, having retired (June 2012) from the Education Director position with LIUNA (Laborers' International Union of North America). Kathleen has also spent many years teaching for the National Labor College, Penn State University and the North America's Building Trades Unions. She has her master's degree in Labor Studies from UDC; a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University in Economics; and is certified as an Employee Benefits Specialist. Kathleen is a member of the United Association for Labor Education.

Regina (Jean) M. Dearden

Regina (Jean) M. Dearden (ret.), was the Director of the Bonnie Ladin Union Skills Program and the Chair of the Faculty Senate. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore County in Instructional Systems Development, a BA in Communications/Journalism from Shippensburg University, and a certificate in Online Teaching from the University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA Extension. She specializes in the development and design of effective training and adult learning. She has taught union leaders and members internationally in Egypt, Jordan, and South Africa.

Virginia Diamond

Virginia R. Diamond, JD, is a labor lawyer who began her career as an organizer with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union in Virginia. She was Assistant Director of the Department of Organizing and Field Services at the National AFL-CIO, and has taught organizing and labor law at the National Labor College (formerly George Meany Center).

Virginia has worked with the Service Employees International Union, the United Auto Workers, and the Virginia AFL-CIO. She is the author of several publications on organizing including Organizing Guide for Local Unions, Numbers that Count: Guide to Internal Organizing, and Labor Law Handbook.

She has a BA from Yale University, an MA from Columbia University Teacher's College, and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Michael Hayes

Michael Hayes, JD, has served on the faculty of the University of Baltimore School of Law since 1998, where he has taught courses in employment law, labor law, employment discrimination, torts, and negotiation and other lawyering skills. From August 2013 to January 2017, Mr. Hayes served in a political appointment from President Obama, in the U.S. Department of Labor, as the Director of the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS), the federal agency that administers and enforces the Labor-Management Reporting & Disclosure Act. Mr. Hayes is the co-author, with labor lawyer Bruce Feldacker, of the latest Fifth/2013 edition of the book Labor Guide to Labor Law, and is the Co-Editor of the past few editions of the book, The Campaign Guide: Organizing the Construction Industry. Prior to his teaching career, Mr. Hayes practiced labor and employment law for six years with Sherman, Dunn, Cohen, Leifer and Yellig in Washington, D.C., and for one year as a staff counsel to the National Labor Relations Board. He has a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, and a B.S. from Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

Bruce Holt

Bruce Holt, has been a member of the IUPAT for 38 years. While employed as a Union drywall finisher he was appointed to his city's Planning and Zoning Commission, and was elected Vice Chair after 2 years. He was elected to 4 terms as an Alderman reaching Board President in his fourth term. He was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives, and then served as a Policy Advisor to two Governors of differing parties. He finished his political career as Chief of Staff for a Missouri State Senator. Bruce then was asked to serve as the Missouri State Lobbyist for the Missouri District Councils of his Union. He is now semi-retired, serving as a contract Missouri Lobbyist in the Capitol for IUPAT District Council #58 which serves Eastern Missouri and the southern half of Illinois.

Fred Kotler

Fred Kotler, JD, is a Government Relations Advisor in the School of Industiral and Labor Relations at Cornell University. He has extensive experience in education, training, and organizational development as a training specialist, program and course developer, instructor, administrator, and policy analyst, assisting organizations to develop the internal capacity for education and training.

He attended Harvard University, the University of California, Berkeley, and received his law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Thomas Kriger

Thomas J. Kriger, PhD, is the Director of Research at North America's Building Trades Unions, AFL-CIO. From 2008 to 2012 Kriger was Professor of Labor Studies and Provost and Vice President for Academics at the National Labor College. He was Associate Budget Director for Research and Policy for the State University of New York System Administration from 2007 to 2008. From 1998 to 2007 he served as Assistant to the President and Director of Legislation and Research for United University Professions (Local #2190), the American Federation of Teacher's largest higher education local. Kriger has held faculty positions at the University of Northern Colorado, Providence College, and St. Lawrence University and is the author of numerous publications on labor issues.

Craig Merrilees

Craig Merrilees, has worked on diverse campaigns for labor, environmental and human rights organizations during the past four decades. He currently serves as Communications Director for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). Previously he directed a 16,000-member affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers (AFSCME), and served as a Communications Coordinator for the Teamsters Union reform administration in Washington, D.C. Merrilees co-directed the national field campaign that battled for for labor and environmental standards in the NAFTA trade agreement. He served as a media consultant for hundreds of grassroots environmental activists affiliated with the National Toxics Campaign who organized against dangerous incinerators, power plants and pesticides. In Chicago, he managed city-wide campaigns with Illinois Public Action for utility reform, urban transit, housing and other issues. In California, he’s staffed political campaigns, including four statewide ballot propositions that addressed environmental, education, health care and human rights issues. Other political action assignments include serving as Northern California Director of the Campaign for Economic Democracy (CED) where he helped coordinate electoral and advocacy efforts with local governments and the State Legislature. Merrilees has also worked as a writer, producer, reporter and political analyst for television, radio and print news outlets. He and his work have appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News and PBS NewsHour – along with profiles in The Wall Street Journal and other publications. He has testified before committees in Congress, state legislatures, local governments and has been a featured speaker at major universities and law schools. He was appointed to serve on California’s Marine Protected Areas Advisory Committee for the North Central Region, and whenever possible, rides his bicycle to work across the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoys backpacking the John Muir Trail.

Gene Morrill

Gene Morrill, is Senior Staff Associate Emeritus and Coordinator of Performing Arts at the George Meany Center for Labor Studies-The National Labor College. Mr. Morrill has been at the Meany Center since it opening in 1974. He developed and now teaches all oral communication and media courses for the Center. He also teaches communication skills in their courses on organizing, arbitration and collective bargaining. Off campus, Mr. Morrill has trained the staff of several international and national unions and has participated in a variety of educational programs throughout the labor movement. In the past 25 years, Mr. Morrill has been invited to train for and facilitate labor movement initiatives in countries such as Central and Latin America, the Caribbean, Bulgaria, Hungary, South Africa, Tunisia, Egypt, Romania, and Canada. Mr. Morrill is now retired from the NLC faculty, but remains active in supporting the labor movement through training, education and organizing.

Jon Newman

Jon Newman, JD, is a shareholder at Sherman Dunn, P.C., a union-side law firm in Washington D.C. His practice is dedicated exclusively to the representation of labor unions, with a particular emphasis on unions in the building trades. He works closely with union officers and representatives to provide strategic and litigation counsel in connection with organizing campaigns. He also has extensive experience assisting unions with the negotiation and enforcement of collective bargaining agreements. In addition, Jon regularly provides counsel to unions on internal governance issues, including LMRDA compliance.

Jon litigates regularly in U.S. district courts, U.S. courts of appeals, state courts and before the National Labor Relations Board and other government agencies. He has also handled numerous arbitration matters.

Jon graduated with honors from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1994, and was a member of the Order of Coif. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Hamilton College in 1989. Jon is admitted to the bar of the District of Columbia, numerous U.S. courts of appeals, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He is a member of the American and D.C. Bar Associations.

Peter Olney

Peter Olney, is the retired Director of Organizing for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). Olney has been part of the labor movement for over 40 years. He has worked for numerous labor unions as an organizer and negotiator. Since coming to California in 1983 he has focused his work on building organization in the immigrant working class.

From 2001 until 2004 Olney was the Associate Director of the University of California's Institute for Labor and Employment (ILE). Olney has a Masters in Business Administration from UCLA. He resides in San Francisco, California.

Dan Pasini

Dan Pasini, IBEW President for Local 617, is a third year instructor for the SMJATC five-year program. Dan holds a Bachelor Degree in Psychology and a Master of Science Degree in Counseling and Career Counseling. He brings to this position a strong background in student services. Dan, for fourteen years, was a teacher and counselor at Mercy High School in San Francisco, California. In 1995, he entered the electrical industry as a non-union apprentice at Tandem Electric. In 1997, Dan was selected and completed his five-year apprenticeship with Local 617. The SMJATC is fortunate to have him as an accomplished instructor.

Glenn Perusek

Glenn Perusek, is an instructor/course coordinator for the Organizational and Membership Development course series. He has served as director of the Center for Strategic Research at the AFL-CIO in Washington, DC; as strategic research manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and worked on strategic campaigns at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He was instructor/coordinator for the AFL-CIO/Cornell University program on strategic research and campaigns. He earned a B.A. from Kent State University and holds MA and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago, where he was a Merriam Fellow and won the Baker Prize. His publications include Shifting Terrain (2006). Perusek was a journeyman member of the typographical union in Chicago.

Robert Pleasure

Robert Pleasure, is a member of the staff of North America's Building Trades Unions, AFL-CIO. Prior to that he served as Special Assistant to the President of the Building Trades. He was Executive Director of a number of institutes affiliated with the AFL-CIO and North America's Building Trades Unions, including the George Meany Center for Labor Studies (now the National Labor College), CPWR (the Building Trades Health and Safety Research Institute), and the AFL-CIO Center for Working Capital. He worked with John Sweeney, former President of the AFL-CIO, as Assistant to the President for Education and Training. Bob took leave from the Building Trades and served on the Presidential Transition Team, U.S. Department of Energy, between November 2008 and January 20, 2009, when he returned to the Building Trades. He graduated from the College of the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan Law School, and completed an M.Sc. degree at the London School of Economics.

Greg Raftery

Greg Raftery, is currently with the IUPAT Organizing Department and is Special Assistant to the IUPAT General President. His union organizing experience is extensive, working in positions such as International Director of Organizing; Regional Organizing Coordinator; Regional Director of Organizing; Lead Organizer; Staff Organizer and VOC Organizer. In addition to his organizing experience, Greg has worked as a local business representative as well as a trustee on various trust funds. Greg has been invited to sit on various political committees and was Labor-Lobbyist for Missouri and Illinois. Greg has a passion for teaching labor education/organizing and has developed a number of course curriculums over the years.

Richard Resnick

Richard Resnick, JD, was a shareholder at Sherman Dunn, P.C., a union-side law firm in Washington, D.C., until his retirement at the end of 2019. During his 44 years at the firm, Richard exclusively represented labor unions. He served as General Counsel of North America’s Building Trades Unions and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. He also served as General Counsel of CPWR: The Center for Construction Research and Training, the Helmets to Hardhats program and the Plan for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes in the Construction Industry.

Richard has been involved in complex litigation before the NLRB, DOL and the EEOC, and has argued cases in federal and state courts at both the trial and appellate levels and in arbitration proceedings across the country. He has extensive experience in negotiating collective bargaining agreements and project labor agreements, including for some of the largest employers and projects in the United States.

Frequently Asked Questions

Academy courses are very interactive. Most are scheduled over four or five intensive days. You will arrive either Sunday or Monday and then jump right into the class. A course coordinator will handle most of the teaching duties and guide you through the sessions. Other instructors - each with their own area of expertise - will work with you on different topics. You should expect to attend every session. You should also expect to engage with the instructors and course materials as much as possible. There will be plenty of breaks for snacks and meals, and opportunities to work with your fellow Building Trades colleagues in brain storming through the materials and assignments. There will be assignments as well as role playing and simulations designed to help you better understand the material. Dress is casual.
  • A copy of your collective bargaining agreement.
  • A laptop or notebook computer.
  • Any issues you want to discuss, as long as they are related to the subject matter of the course, so that they can be explored generally in an educational environment.
  • Questions regarding registration, billing, and/or general inquiries, please contact Kristi White, Labor Relations Coordinator at (517) 353-3131 or

Contact us

Building Trades Academy
368 Farm Lane, Room S416
East Lansing, MI 48824