Union’s Weapon of the 21st Century: Education

Union’s Weapon of the 21st Century: Education

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Why must education be of top priority in every union?
Think back to when you were an infant. Now think, as an infant you were born with no guidance sources (Mother and Father) available. What happens? You have just been set up for failure. With this failure, comes extinction.
Now, think to the present. You are a union member. You have worked as a rank and file member a few years. You have just been elected business manager of your union. Congratulations! Next week starts the beginning of contract negotiations, and globalization is here. Guess What? You have just been set up for failure. You have no idea how to negotiate a contract or even deal with the ramifications of globalization. The only training you have ever had was the necessary training to do your job. Your fellow leaders have only experience from the past, no new ideas, and have stagnated. What is going to happen with your union?
This has been the norm of unions for years now. They seem to provide only enough training to get by, or no training at all. Unions were unprepared when globalization hit in the 1980’s. Now in the 21st century they still are not prepared. Unions tend to think there are limited resources on subjects that affect unions, or have no knowledge of how or where to obtain the resources, or even accomplish the task of training. Some even think education and training is a waste of money. Money, which they think should be used to feed organizing and the political candidates.
Unions have to come to the realization by being pro-active in regards to training and education; they will have developed an advanced intellectual power which will be ready for any confrontation that comes before them. This is where labor educators come in. Unions need to come to the realization that education programs need to be solid, the main focus, and at the core of every union in order to keep the unions from extinction.
Unions have many subjects that need to be continuously taught, trained, studied, and critiqued. Some of these are basic unionism, skill training, safety, organizing, grievance handling, contract negotiations, health care, political action, benefits, labor law, as well as others. All these should be taken into consideration at the local and international levels. Top education programs need to be established to keep rank and file members, as well as leadership abreast of new innovations and technology and maintain a progressive intellectual competence.

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Instructors’ of union education can no longer hold minimum education requirements out of the rank and file medium. Too many training programs have many directors and instructors of this caliber. Stagnation has set in.

Instructors still need to be union orientated, but also be pro-active in self-education in reference to certificate, diploma, and degree programs as well as new innovative teaching techniques available. They also need to be accepting and instrumental in working with other unions. All union members must have continual on-going education. Education has to be of top priority in every union. This is the only way the unions are going to survive; is by building a solid foundation, along with a solid structure of education, and by continually being pro-active in new technology, innovation, as well as local and international affairs. Otherwise, you will see how failure is set into motion and extinction becomes the inevitable.

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