Welcome from the Chairperson!
WELLS is labour educators coming together with one basic mission: to promote the expansion of affordable, inclusive, accessible, high quality, and solidarity-based education for working people.
I know the importance of labour education first hand. In 2007 I started at my first union job. I was a young worker, and an activist. I supported unions in principle, but knew very little about what they were and how they worked. It was labour education combined with experience in the movement that made me the labour activist, leader and, to an extent, the person that I am today. It is hard to imagine how different things would be if I had not had access to that education.
Today labour education is of course as important as ever. Working people face the prospect of struggling to get by, squeezed between declining real incomes and a growing affordability crisis while wealth and power concentrate in the hands of a few. The rise of the gig economy menaces existing jobs and working conditions, as does the continued growth of automation and computerization. The danger of climate catastrophe looms omnipresently, alongside the uncertainty of the post-COVID economy. Meanwhile, big business claims unions are a relic of the past while simultaneously spending billions to undermine them.
But nothing can resist the collective strength of working people when they get organized and educated. Labour education teaches workers about their rights, and how to defend and advance them. It develops their understanding of labour law, and the fundamentals of how our social, political, and economic system works. It turns unorganized workers and rank-and-file union members into organizers, activists, and leaders. Education is foundational to building a stronger labour movement and a better future.
On this website you will find resources on a variety of labour education topics, related news and upcoming events, information about WELLS, and much more. I encourage you to look around, share with your friends and coworkers, and sign up for our email list. Thank you for visiting WELLS, and all the best in your educational endeavours.
- Stephen Von Sychowski, Chairperson
Why Worker Education?
Whether in paid or unpaid work, the question of “what are the educational needs of working people from the workers’ perspective” often remains unanswered. In response to the constant change of work and factors affecting worker precarity/vulnerability, there is a constant need for workers to access workers’ education. The Worker Education and Labour Learning Society (WELLS) aims to centralize worker education from a labour and union rights perspective. We provide resources so that workshops, courses, presentations and other learning materials can be easily accessible to working class people.
Some labour scholars have defined workers’ education as education that seeks to build the confidence of workers so that they can strengthen their social and economic position in society. In times of precarious work, workers’ education can be seen as a way to improve the social and economic conditions of working people. Worker education can include learning about the history of working people, labour and employment laws, union organizing and collective bargaining, and occupational health and safety.
It is critical that worker education is easily accessible to ensure a more equitable future for all working class people. Especially for traditionally underrepresented workers (e.g. women, im/migrants, youths, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ+ folks) who usually have no dependable way to obtain high-quality workers' education, we know that more needs to be done in this area. At WELLS, we aim to equitably reach out and connect working class people to workers’ education. With your help, we believe we can be one step closer to achieving this. Are you excited to learn more? Get involved today.
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