Education for Rank and File Control

November 6, 2021

Because of UE’s commitment to member education, workshops made up a large part of Wednesday, the third day of convention. Morning workshops included “Them and Us Unionism,” based on UE’s booklet of the same title, led by retired UE International Representative Terry Davis and Jennifer Sherer, a former Local 896 president who is now senior state policy coordinator for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) Worker Power Project at the Economic Policy Institute. First-time convention attendees were encouraged to select this workshop, and in evaluations shared feedback like, “It is all new to me so everything was interesting and hopefully will help with the formation of our local.”

Tristan Bock-Hughes, Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee staff and International Representative Mark Meinster led “Building Power through Organizing,” where members practiced organizing conversations and learned to map their workplaces. Several participants commented that they really appreciated learning the concept of a map or chart to think about reaching workers throughout the workplace. Local 150 Financial Secretary Dominic Harris joined UE Education Director Kari Thompson to facilitate “Solidarity for Racial Justice: Bystander Intervention Training,” during which members discussed strategies for intervening to stop harassment. One member said the workshop was “very informative and beneficial. I hope that this is a reoccurring training for anyone that wishes to participate in learning new strategies.” Amos Levy, a Pittsburgh-based educator, led “Climate Action: Creating 21st Century Jobs and Justice.” Participants appreciated hearing that “members from coast to coast are experiencing the same changes.”

Several of these facilitators returned to lead afternoon workshops. Bock-Hughes and Davis teamed up for “Mobilizing Members to Win Grievances,” and Sherer taught “Building Power with State and Local Political Action.” UE Communications Director Jonathan Kissam led “Keeping the Members Informed,” one of the most popular workshops, and International Representative John Thompson facilitated “A Powerful Pricetag: Understanding health care costs,” which helped members learn to use UE’s health cost calculator. On workshop evaluation forms, many members noted they wished they had had more time for these workshops.

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