(adapted by Matt Noyes from Running a UPS-Style Contract Campaign, by the Teamster Rank & File Education and Legal Defense Fund)
The answer to most workplace and union democracy problems is the same: you have to organize with your coworkers. Easy to say, harder to do. With no staff, nobody on the union payroll, everyone working their regular jobs, how can you build and sustain an organization that is democratic and participatory? How can you spread the work around so it doesn't all fall on a few people? How can you keep track and hold people accountable? How can you avoid burnout and keep the group open to new people?
These power lines are reproductions of the original (very large) power lines created by participants in a strategy workshop I helped design and facilitate for members of the opposition New Directions caucus in Transport Workers Local 100 in New York City, in 1999. (Click on the images for larger pop-up versions.)
By Matt Noyes
(English version of an article written in Winter 2005 for the Center for Transnational Labor Studies. Slight edits made in April 2009)
A previous version of this article appeared in two editions of the Labor Law Semi-monthly Bulletin “Rodo Horitsu Junpo” No. 1594, Tokyo, February, 2005.
by Matt Noyes (published in Japanese by Rodo Horitsu Junpo, Labor Law Semi-Monthly, translated by Ishikawa Kimihiko: マット・ノイズ（石川公彦訳）「労働者教育の問題点：ニューヨーク市立大学に拠点をおく複数の労働者教育センターにおける教育実践から」(pdf)〔『労働法律旬報』1694号（2009年４月25日発行）掲載)
I have always liked the "seed poem" device that this introductory activity uses. I learned it from Emily Schnee in a course we co-taught at the old ILGWU Worker-Family Education Program. We did it as a writing activity. I don't know where she got it. This activity answers several needs at once: it is a good speaking, listening, writing activity; it is creative and uses the whole body; it combines pair and whole group work; it works across levels; it is a good way to begin identifying generative themes.
At a recent workshop on participatory techniques for worker education I had the chance to be a participant, giving me the opportunity to study facilitation from the other side of the equation. While the facilitator was quite good, she made a couple of mistakes that are worth describing so as to watch out for them. (It's so much easier to troubleshoot other's mistakes!)
At the end of the workshop, with about 20 minutes to go, the facilitator suggested the group (20 people) do a quick go around, with each person re-introducing herself and making one comment about the workshop.
Et toi, quand est-ce que tu pars? Elle est ou ta place?
Are you planning a workshop or other education activity and looking for advice or feedback? Want to use activities from this site, but not sure how to adapt them to fit your circumstances? Send me an email and we can set up a time to skype or conference. I'm happy to share experiences and provide feedback or a sounding board for your planning process. Of course it all depends on how busy I am at the time, but it's a good way to use me, so give it a try!
I apologize for website glitches (like the fact that the popular education handbook is not showing up!) I recently upgraded the software and databases and have some work to do. I'll try to get it fixed asap!