Union education is a CUPW priority. It's how we build the union.
CUPW education provides basic education to new members on rights and obligations and on the union's history and structure.
It trains local activists to represent the membership in the workplace, handle day-to-day administration of their locals and organize local activities.
The union teaches its own members how to instruct courses, and trains worker advocates to present arbitration cases and workers' compensation appeals.
CUPW education has an agenda that goes beyond the workplace and the union, offering courses on human rights, globalization and women's issues.
CUPW education happens in several different forums.
· Regional education seminars - The union's regional education seminars are held each spring and fall. These events usually offer a choice of two or three different courses, plus there is a plenary that everyone attends. Some regions schedule their weekend seminars in one location, while those covering a larger geographical area often schedule their courses in more than one place.
· Five-day courses - The union sponsors five-day courses on topics such as health and safety, human rights, the collective agreement, women's issues and globalization.
· Union Education Program - The Union Education Program (UEP), generally regarded as the flagship of CUPW's education program, is run twice a year. In four one-week sessions spread over several months, 40 participants selected from across the country examine work, union and social justice issues from a working class perspective.
· Local courses - Some locals offer courses.
· Course about the RSMC contract - The union has produced a course on the RSMC collective agreement. In some regions it's a three day course. In other regions it's being offered as a one or two day course.
How to find out more
To find out more about regional courses or one week courses, ask your local (the president, or the education officer if there is one). The spring and fall seminars are scheduled a couple of months in advance. The selection process varies from region to region.
To find out more about the UEP, ask your local, or consult union bulletin boards or the union's website. Union Education Program candidates are selected on the basis of participants' applications, which should be sent to the 2nd National Vice President in Ottawa. At the beginning of each spring and fall, the national office sends a bulletin describing the program and a copy of the application form to all locals. You can find these documents on the CUPW website, http://www.cupw-sttp.org .
Much of the funding for CUPW education comes from the Union Education Fund. Under the RSMC contract (Appendix D), Canada Post puts a third of a cent for each hour worked by RSMCs into the fund. This amount will increase to 3 cents by 2011.
Expenses for participants
Members who attend courses can claim expenses such as mileage, meals and childcare, amounts per the CUPW constitution. As well, if the course is out of town, accommodation will be provided. Participants can also apply for leave without pay if the course happens when they are scheduled to work (under Article 21), and the union will pay for the lost wages.