This year’s Midwest School for Women Workers will be held at the Illini Union on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from Sunday, June 22 to Thursday, June 26, 2014. The school provides high-quality education in key leadership and representation skills along with opportunities for women workers to learn from one another and build solidarity. The theme this year is: Growing Our Power: Learning, Inspiring, and Transforming Together. Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teacher’s Union will be the banquet keynote speaker.
The deadline for registration is May 22. There is an e-brochure and registration form here. The MSWW also has a Facebook page. Please “like” it and share it! There a limited number of scholarships available for the school.
For almost 30 years, union Women’s Summer Schools across the United States have brought together women from all sectors of the labor movement to develop skills as activist union members and leaders, build sisterhood across unions and regions, make new friends, and try out new ideas. The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) coordinates the Summer Schools, which are hosted by labor educators and activists associated with different universities each year.
The week-long, residential schools give participants the opportunity for real learning away from the day-to-day distractions of their busy activist lives. It also allows them to really get to know each other and work together, forging lasting relationships that ultimately build the power of the labor movement. In a time when many local, regional and international unions have fewer resources to devote to labor education and leadership development, the Women’s Summer Schools fill the gap for hundreds of union women each summer.
Each year about 400 women in total attend the Summer Schools in four geographic regions: the South, East, Midwest, and West. Participants at any given Summer School typically include women who are active at all levels of their unions, including rank-and-file activists, elected leaders, shop stewards, and union staff.
The school is open to all union members in the Midwest region, but its primary focus is to meet the educational needs of union women. Participants typically include women active at all levels of their unions, including rank-and-file activists, elected leaders, stewards, and staff.
The Summer Schools typically are organized around an overarching theme that’s particularly urgent for the labor movement at that moment. Some common themes of schools in recent years have included: labor’s role in the health care crisis, protecting union rights and civil rights, and building solidarity across borders. Participants at the Summer Schools choose among a wide variety of courses to build concrete skills as union activists and leaders. At most schools these include:
- organizing and mobilizing skills
- strategic planning
- leadership skills
- nuts and bolts of collective bargaining
- grievance handling
- work/family issues
- working with the media
- building labor-community coalitions
- public speaking
- computer skills
- conflict resolution
- dealing with workplace and domestic violence
- labor law
The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) is a united national and international organization of labor educators. The UALE welcomes and includes all labor educators, whether based in a union, a community organization, or at a college or university. Together we work to promote education as an essential tool in the process of union transformation, to develop new leadership, and to strengthen the field of labor education in order to meet the changing needs of unions and workers. For more information about the Midwest School, check out their website at http://www.ler.illinois.edu/labor/womenworkers.html and for other regional schools, check out this UALE page.