The UALE Western Region and the Labor and Community Studies Department (LBCS) of City College of San Francisco co-hosted a Labor Education Exchange in San Francisco July 8th and 9th at City College’s Mission Campus. The Exchange included a dinner and performance Friday evening followed by a full day of presentations of teaching practices on Saturday. The Friday evening performance was an oral history reader’s theater about the lives and organizing efforts of the members of La Colectiva des Mujeres. La Colectiva is a domestic workers advocacy organization that partnered with LBCS’ Work Tales oral history theater project to create their work, Nuestras Vidas, Nuestros Testimonios. Attendees and performers engaged in a lively post-performance discussion. Saturday’s participants gave presentations on their change-oriented educational work. Contexts ranged from union leadership short courses to community college classes to trainings in community-based organizations, worker collectives and homeless shelters. Presenters engaged their fifty-five registered co-attendees in discussion about their various programs and teaching approaches. Keynote speaker Steven Pitts of the U.C. Berkeley Labor Center helped set the tone for the day as he spoke on Labor Education in the Era of Black Lives Matter.
Exchange participants were predominantly from the Bay Area, with others from Sacramento, Los Angeles and as far away as Iowa and New York. They included Peter Olney discussing a leadership development class aimed at advancing members of color into leadership in the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way section of the Teamsters, Guled Muse of the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation outlining his groups’s low-income-resident training work, attorney-activist Nina Fendel’s wonderfully participatory use of inner monologue shadows in her anti-sexual harassment training role-play, Lamon Werlein-Jaen of the U.C. Berkeley Labor Center describing deeply worker derived training curriculum he developed with UNITE HERE Local 2 and Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino of UCLA’s Labor Center laying out plans for August’s Western Region Summer Institute for Union Women. The presentations were diverse and though-provoking.
This 2016 event was the third such Western Region Labor Education Exchange, indicating an ongoing need for gatherings that build and support a local network of labor educators who can learn from each other and share experiences, opportunities and resources. Exchange planners Helena Worthen, Joe Berry, James Tracy and Bill Shields will assess the event and share with our UALE colleagues our thoughts on what worked about this event and how future ones might be improved.For more information about the Western Region Exchange, including a detailed list of presenters and their topics, please contact Helena Worthen at or Bill Shields at .