|Home||Legal Rights||Education||Union Democracy Review||Books||AUDLinks|
|The AUD Union Democracy Worker Education Project: workshops, classes, conferences, and resources.|
Frequently asked questions
What is the Union Democracy Worker Education Project?
AUD's Union Democracy Worker Education Project helps rank and file union members become better activists and organizers, by providing education in legal rights and organizing methods and techniques. We offer workshops, conferences, classes and publications for union members, representatives, and officers who want to build a strong and democratic union movement.
Many programs offer education for union members. Why should we get our education from the Union Democracy Worker Education Project?
We are independent and we offer a unique perspective.
Independence: Good union sponsored education programs will teach you legal rights and tools you can use to organize on the job. A few will even teach you how to participate in the union. But, you will have a hard time finding a union-sponsored education program that teaches workers how to fight for democracy in their union. That kind of knowledge and the way it can be applied in practice is just too controversial. Even the best programs, which do not suppress open discussions of union politics and union democracy, have to be careful not to encourage them.
AUD is an independent organization. We are free to help you learn the skills and strategy you need to accomplish the goals you set. We will not cut off a program if it challenges union leadership, we do not discourage workers from questioning union policy, or shy away from "hot" topics or difficult issues.
For thirty years, AUD has worked with rank and file activists across the US and we have played a leading role in the fight for union democracy. No union-sponsored education program can match our knowledge and experience in the area of union democracy and rank and file organization. Our perspective is that union members should control their unions and that democracy--which means freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom of association--is not a weakness or a threat. It is the key to strong unions.
Who does the teaching? What are their qualifications?
Workshops and classes are taught by experienced educators, union democracy attorneys, and leading rank and file activists. Our education coordinator has taught in worker education for over ten years, in unions, building trades apprentice programs, and university labor studies programs, and has practical experience in union organizing, grievances, arbitration, contract negotiations, rank and file organizing, and other areas of union activism. Our project is larger than our staff. We draw on a rich national network of experienced union democracy activists and advocates who volunteer their time to help build the movement.
How much does it cost?
The cost of an educational event is based on the materials, the time and travel involved, and the ability to pay. We have limited resources, but make every effort to make our education available to people who need it, even if they can't afford to pay very much. We ask unions and workers who can pay more to contribute to AUD so we can offer education to those who have less.
What is popular education?
In a nutshell, popular education is democratic, participatory, and encourages critical thinking. It is starts with the needs and concerns of the participants, and helps people take action to solve their problems. It is the opposite of top-down education where students are expected to passively accept and reproduce what the teacher has decided they should know. It is also different from education that uses participatory techniques to further a preset agenda. We think union democracy should be taught the way it should be organized: democratically. (See the page about our method on this site.)
What if we want specialized training for our particular situation?
We will work with you to develop a plan that provides the training you need. If you are new officers and want ideas on how to restructure the grievance procedure, we will connect you with other reform officers who have come up with new approaches. If you are public sector workers, we will bring in activists who have had success organizing for democracy in public sector unions.
How can your education project help us organize in our union?
Many activists have trouble getting their coworkers involved. We can help you figure out where to begin and how to overcome apathy and fear, using and adapting successful organizing techniques and tools: newsletters, websites, member to member networks, using grievances to organize, running for local office and more. See the workshops page for more examples.
Who gets their education from the Union Democracy Worker Education Project?
UDWEP has taught specialized classes, workshops, or conferences for workers and groups in almost every union: Airline Pilots, Machinists, Teamsters, Transport Workers, Plumbers, Carpenters, Ironworkers, Electrical Workers, Postal Workers, Communications Workers, etc. We have taught new officers, trained stewards, and helped workers build reform groups on the local and national level. Many participants in our classes become teachers to other workers.
What if I am not in a union?
Our mission is education for union democracy. Most of the people we work with are already union members, though we have done work with people who are involved in new organizing. Contact us for more information.
Can the union officers file charges against us for bringing the UDWEP in to teach classes?
You have the legal right to organize or participate in any UDWEP event. We will help you enforce that right. (See the Legal Rights page on this site.)
Is your project only for rank and file members? Do you offer education for officers or staff?
We offer education for workers at every level. At each level we stress democracy and rank and file control and offer concrete ways to make them happen in your union.
Can you offer education in languages other than English?
We offer education in English, Spanish, and French. We can work with you to set up education in other languages.
Is AUD a partisan group--if you give a class for a union or group, does that mean you support them?
AUD and the Union Democracy Worker Education Project are strictly non-partisan. We provide education on legal rights and organizing for democracy and power on the job and in the union. Our programs are open to all who share that goal.
How can I get more information?
Contact us at 718-564-1114 , e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look at the other pages in the education section of this website.
Page designed by Matt Noyes, National
Writers Union/UAW, and Rachel Szekely
the following credit line on the materials you use:
Please notify us at email@example.com when you use material from the site.
Send comments or suggestions on the website to firstname.lastname@example.org.