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Adult education among members of a North Vancouver labour union Brown, Maria Johanna


This study surveyed the education and information seeking activities of Local 389 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees covering the period from March 1971 to March 1972. One hundred and three respondents were interviewed in a random sample of 141 union members. Participation rates were established for union education, labour education, other adult education, self-directed learning projects, and other information seeking activities. Socio-economic and psycho-social characteristics of participants and non-participants in these various educational activities were also studied. In view of the repeatedly expressed union assumptions that unions are responsible for all educational needs of rank and file members, this study also established how important members of Local 389 perceived their union's role to be in providing education in four different areas: union education, vocational education, labour education and leisure time education. It was found that the members studied accepted the union's role in providing union education, rejected the union's role in providing labour and leisure time education, and were divided in their opinion about the union's role, in providing vocational education, depending on their formal level of education. Only the poorly educated, unskilled members studied were willing to accept union responsibility for vocational training. In view of the surprisingly large amount of self-learning reported by the respondents, a t-test found that there was no significant difference in mean hours spent in self-directed projects for participants and non-participants in formal courses. Participation in union education was found to be limited to active union members only (8.74 per cent of the respondents). No participation in labour education was reported by the respondents studied, while 35.92 per cent participated in other adult education courses. Participation in self-directed learning projects and in other information seeking activities was high, with percentages of 99.03 and 96.12 respectively. Union participation (the extent to which a member participates in the life of the union), age and sex were found to be significant factors for participation or non-participation in formal courses. No significant differences were found in types of subjects in which respondents in different occupational categories were interested.

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