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Teacher Strike? Time for Labor Studies

by johnk Wednesday, Jan. 09, 2019 at 6:26 AM

With the strike looming, it's a good time to prepare for a little alternative, experiential education. Labor Studies!

What is Labor Studies?

It's social studies that looks into the role of labor and working people in society. It draws from multiple fields like: history, sociology, political economy, women's studies, industrial relations, and other fields.

What this means is that courses in "labor studies" vary, but they all look at labour.

You can study the history of labor. You can study how labor fits into society, and why and how people work. You can look at the role of labor in the economy, in relation to other factors, like capital. You can look at women's role within labour, but also external to waged labor, because women are also tasked to do unpaid labor.

"Industrial relations" is another way to say "business". Labor studies is like the worker's "business school." This typically also involves learning labor law. Labor Law is, itself, a specialization within legal studies, so lawyers can specialize in labor law, to represent unions and workers.

Labor studies is an integral part of the labor movement, and labor unions, and anyone within union leadership is likely to be getting an "organic" education in labor studies, but there's considerable value to a formal education in Labor Studies, as well.

How does this fit in with the Teacher Strike?

A strike is a relatively unusual action these days, and most people won't know what it is. Kids generally will not know what a strike is, but most adults don't know what a strike is, either.

This is an opportunity to learn.

Here are some questions to consider and answer:

What is a Strike or Industrial Action?

What is a Contract, a Collective Bargaining Agreement?

Why do they have Strikes? Why don't they just take what they're given?

Can the company or school district go on strike?

What is a "scab"?

Why do the strikers allow the scabs? Shouldn't they go in and shut it down?

Do you have any other questions? Post them in the comments and get a discussion going.

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