Statement Of Principles : Education

November 21, 2001


The trade union movement was born out of the determination to improve the position of workers in our society. Trade union education is, therefore, different from other kinds of education. It is not about developing the skills that will improve productivity or about acquiring skills that will lead to better career opportunities. Rather, it is about defending working people and developing the understanding, commitment, and confidence to change and improve the world.

Today, many formerly unorganized workers are joining our union, and the new generation of workers in our existing workplaces has no automatic historical ties to the principles of unionism. At the same time, the attacks on unionism are both increasing and more sophisticated. These changes in the workforce and in corporate strategy are intensifying the educational needs of our leadership and membership.


Working people learn from their everyday experiences, from their struggles for dignity and equality, and from their democratic participation in the life of the union at all levels: from local committees to Intra-Corporation Councils, to special conferences, to the meetings of the union's parliament, the CAW Council. The role of the education department is to reinforce this informal education and to build on it.


Our education centre in Port Elgin is the spiritual centre of the union. It has all the best elements of an adult educational facility. It was built to encourage working people to gather in smaller groups to discuss their problems and debate the major issues of the times. It recognizes the need for top quality childcare for families. It is a cultural centre full of artwork celebrating the lives of ordinary people, past struggles, solidarity with others, and internationalism. It fits into, and is enriched by, the natural environment. It is a place where current strengths will be consolidated, new ideas generated, future activists formed, and where collective pride and confidence can emerge and flourish.

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