Environmental Views and Practices of Quebec Unions, Sectoral Committees and Envirocompetences Industrial Cluster

Tremblay, Diane-Gabrielle – Télé-université

One of the main objectives of ACW is to identify the policies and good practice and initiatives that can support the changes that the Canadian and Québec work environments need to adopt (better practices, new technologies, etc.) in order to reduce GHG emissions.

Our project will identify the positions, mobilizations and collective actions that Québec unions and other associations (sectoral committee -Envirocompétences, Clean products industrial cluster-Ecotech Québec) and others to be determined in cooperation with unions and associations) have undertaken.

We will also try to relate these positions to the various types of transition pathways, including the Just Transition concept, and particularly to the positions of international and national organizations on these issues (OECD, ILO, UN, Switch, etc. see references at the end of the document)

The result will be a report on the positions, mobilizations and collective actions in Québec. We will analyze these elements in relation to theories on collective mobilization and social movements.

The proposed research will thus contribute to the aims of ACW, including objectives such as the following:

  • Develop work-based strategies to reduce GHGs and energy use, and disseminate information on this in Québec unions as well as professional associations, sectoral committees and industrial clusters.
  • Identify mobilization tools and policy preferences of Québec actors on issues related to climate change and green adaptation of workplaces.
  • Disseminate the results widely in Québec unions and associations (sectoral committee -Envirocompétences, Clean products industrial cluster-Ecotech Québec).
  • Develop further the practitioner-academic research clusters beyond the present members of ACW and particularly in Québec organizations that have not yet been associated to ACW.

Green Transitions in the Built Environment

Gleeson, Colin – University of Westminster

Clarke, Linda – University of Westminster

Calvert, John – Simon Fraser University

Steward, Fred – University of Westminster

Based on the framework developed by the International Working Group this project seeks to investigate trade union-led environmental interventions in the built environment.

Up to seven interventions will be investigated from Canadian Provinces and European countries representative of different forms of capitalism and labour organization focused on:

  • the nature of the transition pathway and implications for job creation, skill development, and the construction labour process, with particular attention to labour market and employment differences;
  • the impact of employment conditions on sites, and the knowledge, skills and competence essential for closing the energy performance gap and achieving nearly-zero energy buildings;.
  • the requirements for thermal or energy literacy for construction occupations, how this has and can be developed, and its integration into the construction process, VET programmes and qualification systems;
  • governance and partnership arrangements, the roles of different stakeholders, above all the trade unions and workers themselves.
  • Identification of barriers to improved communication and co-operation among the various trades, occupations and professionals on construction work sites.

The project will include a workshop, to be held in Toronto in conjunction with an ACW team meeting and a workshop in Brussels or London for the UK researchers.

Environmental Racism: The Impact of Climate Change on Racialized Canadian Communities: An Environmental Justice Perspective

Wilson, Christopher – Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

This project is designed to explore the impact of climate change upon racialized communities within Canada. A significant amount of research has gone into exploring the impact of Climate Change upon indigenous peoples with the Idle No More movement. This project intends to bring this vision of community mobilization around climate change to other racialized communities by:

  • Drawing Black Trade Unionists and other racialized communities into the fight to slow climate change.
  • Linking this fight with the development of pathways to good green jobs for the aforementioned

There are multiple stages to the project with a focus upon research and mobilization as follows:

  1. Initially, bibliographies have been compiled on the subject of environmental racism   to be utilized as a part of a social media campaign to engage anti-racist activists through a participatory research
  2. The second stage of the project will be a workshop/focus-group of Black Trade Unionists to compile research data on the participants’ experience surrounding climate change and environmental
  3. The third stage will provide a workshop open to the community as a forum for community engagement. Themes of the workshop include:
    • What is to be understood by the words “environmental racism”? How it is affecting communities and their environment?
    • Exploring case studies in Canada
    • The present and future role of racialized communities in the “Green Economy”
    • Developing an Environmental Racism Charter
  1. The final stage of the project will be a collaborative report and video developed with the assistance of a Graduate The video and collaborative report will be housed on ACW’s website, as well as CBTU’s.
  2. Depending on the outcome, further support for wide dissemination of the video may be sought.
  3. Depending on the outcome, the CBTU-ACW team may explore a further project developing pathways to identify and access good green jobs for Black Trade

By working in collaboration both CBTU and ACW, this project will educate community activists and provide tools to both confront environmental racism within our communities and develop ways in which Black Trade Unionists  can access good green jobs.

Delivering Climate Training to Union Leaders: Models of Engagement and Sustainability

Staples, Steven – Public Response Inc.

An important centerpiece of the ACW grant is its knowledge mobilization component. At the November 2015 ACW meeting, the Training Working Group was tasked with developing an education plan to provide training to union leaders and others, effectively integrating the research into the training and education of union members by labour organizations.

As the Training Working Group convener, Elaine Bernard of Harvard University, points out, “Unions in Canada do a significant amount of education for leaders and activists in their organizations and it will be important to seek to integrate climate change to expand current concerns, but also to create some new programs that unions see as assisting them in involving younger members and developing a new group of activists interested in these issues.”

The purpose of this project will be to gather information on the models that the Canadian labour movement is using to deliver training and education programs, and the best means by which the ACW project can mobilize its knowledge through these programs. The ACW project will be developing educational materials that will benefit many audiences, but special focus will be made on the education of union members. Roughly one third of Canada’s workers are unionized, providing the project with a well-organized network through which it can reach local labour leaders

Labour education and training is conducted in various ways and through multiple modalities. Training programs are organized by unions themselves and are delivered by dedicated labour educators at union-owned facilities such as Unifor’s Port Elgin Family Education Centre. Labour councils and federations hold labour schools, inviting members of affiliated unions to come together to attend training and educational workshops. Other unions, such as the UFCW Canada have a “WebCampus” through which over 10,000 members take courses each year. Other training is delivered by third-party or labour-affiliated organizations, such as the Ontario Federation of Labour’s Occupational Disability and Response Team (ODRT). The ODRT is funded jointly by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Ontario, and the labour movement (through registration fees). It is administered by the OFL, but has its own board of directors, staff, etc.

This project will review these models and others, while employing a climate-education lens to ensure that the research contributes to the ACW knowledge mobilization plan. Some of the questions that might be investigated include:

  • What are the best practices in delivering union and worker education today, in Canada and internationally?
  • How is training organized, whether through unions, federations, semi-autonomous organizations, etc.?
  • What is the participation and how do organizations recruit participants?
  • What are financing models to ensure self-sufficiency and a robust, long-term program, and how is that defined?

A special focus of the report will be to identify models whereby the ACW education modules and materials can be delivered in a financially self-sustaining way. If a self-sustaining model can be developed, then the training will be able to continue beyond the SHHRC project’s lifespan, and continue to grow and adapt to changing demands placed upon labour educators.