For Immediate Release
All Zones
May 10, 2000
For More Information Contact:
Roxane M. Geraci at (219) 980-6686
Indiana University Northwest
Office of Marketingand Communications
Region Steel Workers to Study Canadian Labor Movement in Toronto

Over 20 steel workers in the region will spend nine days in Canada laterthis month while studying the Canadian Labor Movement. The workers areIndiana University Northwest SwingShiftCollege students from the steel industry and their locals. While inCanada, they will attend seminars at YorkUniversity in Toronto and tour local steel plants other labor sites. 

“The United States and Canada go way back with steel workers workingwithin 100 miles of the border,” says Dr. RuthNeedleman, labor studies department coordinator. ”TheFree Trade Agreement has been devastating. Canada is a major tradepartner and experiences many of the same issues (steel industry) as wedo like restructuring, cutbacks, etc. They are up against the same forcesas we are in the U.S., but many times it impacts them in different ways.We want to learn from each other.”

During their stay, labor students will attend a two-day seminar at theLabour Center of York University. University faculty and top labor leadersand activists will speak on major issues that include the Canadian labormovement, labor law and politics, the changing Canadian workplace, unionrestructuring, organizing approaches,  and organizing the new workingclass, locally, nationally and globally.

The group will also attend the UnitedSteelworkers of America (USWA) School for 4-days, sponsored by theUSWA Toronto Labor Council. Both U.S. and Canadian workers will study factorsinvolving “Building Unions in Hard Times.”  Other activities duringtheir stay include two presentations on USWA Anti-Harassment Training andPolicy Procedures and Union Organizing Strategies. Tours of steel millsand special meetings with Canadian steelworkers in Hamilton, Canada arealso on the agenda.

Prior to their departure on May 19, students will attend two workshopson Saturday, May 13 and the following Monday or Wednesday on An Introductionto Canada and its History and Contemporary Labor Problems in Canada. They are also required to read two books, keep a journal, prepare an educationalproject, and communications project. The course is worth 6 credit hours.

According to Needleman, this hands-on kind of instruction for laborstudents is just the beginning. She says that there are plans to continuethese kinds of partnerships and looks forward to ongoing interchanges withother countries. 

 “People from all over the state want to be part of this trip.We are looking at Mexico for a future program partnership,” says Needleman.

In completing its sixth year, IU Northwest’sSwingShift Collegehas been very successful in offering college courses and degrees for laborworkers. 

“This program is customized for working adults offering flexible hoursand repeated courses. It is designed for people with life experiences andis open to all continuing education students,” says Needleman. “The coursesin Swingshift are every bit as challenging as campus courses, but we havea heck of a lot more fun.”     

For more information on “The Canadian Labor Movement” or SwingShiftCollege, contact Dr. Needleman at 219-980-6835.

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