Link to Lesson Plan and Resources

Lesson Description: This lesson concentrates on unions, and collective bargaining in the United States. It will use The Simpsons episode "Last Exit to Springfield" as a tool for compare and contrast information learned in their lesson.

The Simpsons in Social Studies Lesson Plan

Author: Brian Adams

Subject: Economics

Topics Covered: Unions, Strikes, Collective Bargaining

Overview: This economics lesson plan focuses on unionization, strikes, and collective bargaining. The Simpsons episode “Last Exit to Springfield” will be used to facilitate the lesson. The episode itself will be used in its entirety rather than in smaller parts, although it is possible to use smaller clips from the episode if you want to only highlight certain topics/themes.

Lesson Essential Question(s)

· What are the benefits to collective bargaining and unions to the average worker?

· In what ways do unions and ownership clash when they are trying to bargain?

· What strategies do workers have in a negotiations stalemate?


· Pennsylvania State Standards for Economics

o 6.5.B


· The Simpsons season 4, episode 9F15 “Last Exit to Springfield”

· Graphic Organizer/Viewing Guide



- Begin the class with a short investigation and current events study into recent activity surrounding Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his quest to save money by decreasing union power.

- Ask students what they have heard on the news about this particular issue. Start a list of things the students say on the board. Be sure to talk about each one as the students say them.

- Ask the students why they think that it is such a big deal to many teachers in the state of Wisconsin. (Allow for a brief debate between the students)


- Distribute to the students the Graphic Organizer for the lesson. This will be what they will use for both the notes during the lesson, and the video they watch.

- Have the students find the definition of the word “union” in their textbook, on the internet, or in the dictionary. Discuss what they have found before having them add it to their Graphic Organizer. The word tends to have a great amount of definitions that do not all apply to the economics or labor unit.

o The definition that best applies would be something along the lines of “people who are joined together for a common purpose”

- After the students have listed the definition, have them come up with different types of unions that might be in existence. (Tell them that their parents might be in a union, or maybe someone else they know.) They should add these to their notes.

- Talk about why people might join unions and what benefits can be gained from being a member. Students should add to their notes as the class moves on.

- Next, look into the strategies labor unions use to fight or negotiate with the employers.

- First look at strikes, again have the students look for the definition and have the class settle on the definition that sounds like it best fits the topic.

- Do the same for collective bargaining.

- Put the episode of The Simpsons in and have the students compare what they see in the episode to what the class has already talked about.


- After the episode is over, go over the worksheet with the students. Talk about why the Nuclear Plant workers needed to fight Mr. Burns, and what strategies they employed. How is this similar or different to the notes we discussed?

- Students should come up with a sketch or drawing of unions, strikes, and collective bargaining using something from The Simpsons episode they just viewed.