Union education programs for leaders, activists, and members

May 3, 2017

Unions can offer education programs created by and for labour, and delivered with a union perspective.

It is critical for unions to take the lead in creating their own educational opportunities for a few reasons. In addition to sharing information about the science of mental illness and learning how to offer help to members with mental health challenges, labour education emphasizes human rights and health and safety for workers as well as a broader approach.

More broadly, having our own courses ties into the labour movement’s history of empowering workers. Workers are experts on their own mental health. We are experts on caring for loved ones with mental illness. We also have expertise about what needs to happen to create healthier work environments. While medicine has an important role to play in understanding and treating mental illness, it is only part of the picture. By offering courses tailored to members and activists, unions can help fill in the rest of the picture.

By providing education programs specifically for union members and activists, unions can ensure they cover the specific needs of workers, and address human rights and health and safety issues like:

  • How unions can support workers with mental health challenges
  • Understanding the duty to accommodate
  • How unions can take on systemic issues that affect mental health in the workplace and community
  • How to understand and challenge stigma and discrimination
  • How to bargain better benefits and language for mental health
  • Understanding the right to privacy of medical information
  • Peer support
  • Mental health as an advocacy issue

If you are currently developing education for your union and wish to share or access course materials from the CLC, please contact education@clc-ctc.ca.