|Vol. 6 No 1||Winter 2001|
What do unions have to do with literacy? While the connection may not be readily apparent for some, the truth is that unions have a long history of creating learning opportunities for workers and their families.
Union involvement in literacy carries on this tradition. Literacy is a way for unions to not only reach out to members wanting to improve their skills, but to look at how we can make our activities and communications more accessible and inclusive.
Enlightened employers realize that having the union take the lead on workplace literacy makes sense. Generally, workers feel more comfortable talking to their peers, knowing that the union is there to represent their interests and that confidentiality around a sensitive issue will be ensured.
At the same time, they will probably feel more confident about helping their children with their homework. They will have a better sense of their rights as workers and citizens. They may become more involved in their union and in other aspects of their community. The workplace, the union and the worker all have much to gain.
The Role of the Union
Increasingly, unions are seeing the potential of their involvement in literacy. Through the Literacy Working Group of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), representatives from various unions network, share information and learn from each other, and many affiliates have their own literacy initiatives underway. The CLC launched its Workplace Literacy Project in 1996, with an emphasis on co-ordination, communications, technical support and the development of resources. It publishes the CLC bilingual newsletter Learning Together: Solidarity at Work and has produced several resources through the Learning in Solidarity series. The National Literacy Secretariat has been a key partner in these efforts.
Learning for the Future
* Ken Georgetti was elected President of the Canadian Labour Congress in May, 1999. Prior to leading the CLC and its 2.3 million union members, Georgetti was President of the B.C. Federation of Labour for 13 years. Born in Trail, B.C., Georgetti, like his father, went to work at the Cominco smelter where he earned his trade ticket as a pipefitter. There, he became active in the United Steelworkers of America Local 480, becoming its president in 1981. Georgetti brings a commitment to organizing workers, providing life long learning opportunities within the movement, enhancing youths involvement in unions, and increasing literacy levels for all Canadians. Georgetti also brings to his position a commitment to social justice, community involvement, and international development which respects workers and human rights. He is a Vice-President and member of the Executive Board of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and an executive member of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He is the Honourary Chair of the Association of Learning Disabled Adults, Chair of the Labour College of Canada and a board member of ABC Canada.
|Networks Archive||Next Page|
|Unions and Literacy||Brunswick Smelter Adult Education Program|
|NETWORKS information||The Literacy Bookshelf|
|The International Year of Volunteers||Literacy 2000: Towards Reintegration|
|Oral Histories in the Adult Literacy Program||Learner's Corner|
|Networks Datebook||Learner's Story|
|Justice Literacy Indicator, Workbook & CD-ROM Kit||And, Among the Winners...|
|Teaching Tips||Websites Worth Remembering|
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