CLC Winter School
Each winter, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) provides week-long labour education for union members at Harrison Hot Springs. Registration for the 2019 CLC Winter School is now open, and there are spots available for two PEA members and two PEA members who are young workers. (HESU Chapter members, if selected, will require Chapter Executive pre-approval to attend). The PEA will also send two PEA Executive members. Without exception, feedback has been very positive from PEA members attending Winter School in the past.
The course schedule and course descriptions are posted on the CLC website. Winter School runs in January and February 2019. The PEA will pay for course costs, travel, accommodation, food and union leave. Final attendees will be interviewed for The Professional. The deadline to apply is November 15.
Are you interested in attending?
2019 Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) Winter School: Expression of Interest
Member Stories from Winter School
New Learnings, Fresh Perspectives
Reflections on Winter School
The everyday demands of working life don’t always give us room to pause and consider how meaningfully engaging with our union, and the labour movement can provide a renewed sense of focus, empowerment and shared purpose in our jobs. That’s why the PEA endeavours to make educational opportunities available to members whenever possible—they know how enriching and valuable such occasions can be for personal growth and for fostering new leaders within the membership.
In January, twelve PEA members attended the Canadian Labour Congress’s (CLC) Pacific Region Winter School at Harrison Hot Springs, a series of week-long courses offered each January and February. This year’s school included workshops on collective bargaining, labour community advocacy, labour arbitration, mental health in the workplace, standing up against gender-based violence and many other topics. For those who attend, it’s an opportunity to take part in an immersive week of learning while mingling with members of unions from across the province.
“It was an intense week of learning and a bit of an eye-opener,” recalls Marc Schuffert, an agrologist and member of the Government Licensed Professional (GLP) chapter in Smithers, BC. “The first thing, that was almost overwhelming, was the diversity of people and unions represented. I had the impression that every member and every union was met with respect and acceptance, while at the same time we focused on commonalities within the labour movement.”
Schuffert participated in a workshop called Collective Bargaining Level 1, where he learned about the legal frameworks that govern bargaining, the role of bargaining committees, and strategies for meaningfully engaging members in the collective bargaining process. “The most interesting part of the course was the role play,” Schuffert says, noting that acting out the part of different parties during negotiations gave him a better understanding of the adversarial employer-union relationship. “This experience will certainly benefit me as a bargaining committee member when we meet with the employer,” Schuffer says. “I also learned that there is a lot more to learn, but I do feel way better prepared for my role to represent GLP members at the bargaining table.”
Sheldon Martell, a timber tenures specialist in Nanaimo, BC, who is also on the GLP and PEA executive, attended the four-day Benefits Bargaining session.
“In addition to the wealth of knowledge each facilitator brought to the session, each instructor created an atmosphere of high engagement and deep learning,” Martell says.
He came away with new, practical knowledge about collective agreements, prescription drug costs and the complexities of group health plans—knowledge he’d like to find ways to share more widely with his chapter. To that end, Martell says he favours the idea of PEA chapters having access to the services of an actuary during collective bargaining, to assist the bargaining teams with analyzing their benefits plans. The actuary would provide recommendations on the plan’s strengths and weakness and “suggest improvements the bargaining team can champion forward to benefit both the employees and employer,” Martell says.
Winter School sessions highlight the connections between the on-the-ground work of union members and the broader, community-minded aims of the labour movement. This was one of the take-aways GLP member Tory Ross gained from the Labour Community Advocate workshop she attended. A forest technologist in Merritt, BC, Ross came away from the session with a renewed sense of the value of advocacy skills for addressing problems in the workplace or community and of “the importance of being a leader in everything you do.”
Mark Louttit, an engineer from the GLP chapter, attended the Shop Steward Level 1 workshop, which introduces stewards (or local representatives in the PEA) to the key points of representing members in the workplace.
“The local rep is a vital role, as they are the front line between the managers and the members, and they are expected to be knowledgeable in areas such as the collective agreement, grievances, complaints and problem solving,” Louttit says. “This workshop will help any local rep improve their note-taking skills during a grievance meeting, gain a stronger understanding of labour law, and understand their role within the workplace. The course is filled with union members across a broad spectrum of workplaces, so it’s also a great networking opportunity.”
That new knowledge, on top of an occasion to kick back and enjoy the hot springs in the company of like-minded colleagues, provided an energizing start to 2018—a year we hope will be fruitful, productive and meaningful in the lives of PEA members at work and at home.