Learning, bonding, and empowerment at Labor School ’12

Beginning with a tribute to Woody Guthrie

Carolina Labor School Class of 2012 began class last week with a tribute to Woody Guthrie by singing his most famous song, “This Land is Your Land”. Click to watch the video:

[This year is Woody’s centennial. Learn more at http://www.woody100.com/.]

Recapping a great week in Wilmington

Almost seventy members from nearly two dozen affiliates attended Carolina Labor School, this year.

The members of the Class of 2012 were as diverse as the shops from which they came – tobacco workers to entertainment workers, tire makers to telephone technicians, paper makers to bus drivers. They all came to our week-long summer camp at UNC Wilmington with a dedication to their union and to leaving more informed and better trained to represent the labor movement in their shops and in their communities.

New to Labor School this year were instructors from that Labor Education Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Class professors Diane Thomas-Holladay and Grainger Ledbetter provided two days of intense instruction in Why Unions Still Matter? and Resolving Grievances.

Where Grainger’s course gave students practical training in how to win for workers in the shop, Diane’s class provided the historical perspective for why there exists a labor movement in the United States – and why our movement remains essential to the middle class, to preserving American democracy, and to enabling the American Dream.

As always, Mike Okun, NC State AFL-CIO General Counsel, taught five days of instruction in labor law, from its constitutional foundations to the Wagoner Act, to the Family Medical Leave Act, and beyond. And ace Workers’ Compensation attorney Valerie Johnson returned to lead a double workshop on the do’s and don’t’s of one of the most important laws protecting workers in our state.

Labor School isn’t all workshops and instruction. Whether it’s hanging out after class, dancing at the Shrimp-A-Roo hosted by ILA Local 1426, or playing volleyball and sharing an awesome picnic – every year students learn as much about solidarity with each other – and about their place in a larger labor movement in North Carolina – as they learn in the classroom.

Class of 2012 picnic photo.

Click here to see more photos from the 2012 Carolina Labor School.

Thanks to the many local unions who sent students to Labor School this year! Your support for the NC State AFL-CIO is what makes this program possible.