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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The development of education in the Canadian Labour Congress Maynard, Claire


This study traces the development of union education within the Canadian Labour Congress and its predecessors. During the period when union education in Canada originated immediately after World War II, there were two large Canadian Congresses, the Trades and Labor Congress (T.L.C.), and the Canadian Congress of Labour (C.C.L.). The C.C.L., formed in 1940, and its affiliated industrial unions had a pressing need for union education to familiarize its members with union principles. The T.L.C. as a long-established (1883) affiliation of craft unions had a tradition of loyalty toward union aims and was less interested in educational programs. When the two Congresses merged in 1956 and became the Canadian Labour Congress the expansion and growth of membership increased the need for education within the unions. Before the unions organized educational programs for their own members other agencies such as the Mechanics Institute and the Workers' Educational Association attempted to provide a program of liberal arts programs. The programs contributed toward the development of the individual competencies of workers who were not necessarily union members. The peripheral organizations declined as the unions became more adept at administering union education programs. The C.C.L. with its larger affiliated unions is considered to be the originator of union education in Canada. Howard Conquergood, A.L. Hepworth, and Andy Andras, executives of the first education committee in the C.C.L., had a lasting influence on union education trends. The characteristic methods used in union education programs were week-long and weekend schools devoted to giving the student a thorough knowledge of the union as a viable organization dedicated to furthering the economic and social interests of the member. The rise in membership is identified as a factor in the development of the union education program. With the merger of the T.L.C. and the C.C.L. in 1956 to form the Canadian Labour Congress (C.L.C.), more resources could be directed to education. A description is given of the role of the labour movement in adult education through various co-operative activities such as the Labour University Conference in 1956, the National Citizens Forum, and the Canadian Trade Union Film Committee. The co-operation of the C.L.C., McGill University, and the Université de Montreal, led to the establishment in 1963 of the Labour College of Canada as an institution of higher education for trade union members. The College provides an eight-week residential program for workers of Canada and also those of foreign countries. Also pointed out is the broad interest shown by the unions in International affiliations and the study of education in emerging countries. The study concludes by identifying general trends in union education in the past and suggesting some new directions and program areas for union education in the future.

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