Youth and the Labour Movement

Start Date: 2011
Curriculum Links: Social Studies 8 – 11, Planning 10, Social Justice 12, Civics
Project Funders: The Berger-Marks Foundation

The goal of “Youth and the Labour Movement: Connecting Young People, Unions, and Social Justice” is to highlight the connections between the labour movement and social and environmental justice with an emphasis on women’s rights and youth activism. In the first phase of this project, we re-designed both our Globalization 101 workshop as well as our Sweatshops workshops and both now have new activities and new facilitators’ guides that emphasize the connections between the labour movement and social justice. A new “T-Shirt Web” activity, for example, traces the travels of a t-shirt from cotton production through manufacturing and retail and ending with recycling. The activity is an example of the geographic, economic, labour, material, and power-related connections between various global communities and individuals that this project is hoping to incorporate into all of our workshops. In the second phase of the project, we shifted our focus to the Food Justice and Income Inequality workshops. For those workshops, we developed activities exploring the often invisible migrant labour in our food systems, the gender pay gap, and developed resource sheets for teachers and students. Here again, the focus was on drawing young people’s attention to the gender and labour aspects of two social issues (food justice and income inequality in this case). Most recently, with the support of the Berger-Marks Foundation, we adopted this same lens for two additional workshops: Gender Representations and Climate Change. Amongst other changes to these workshops that emphasized labour and gender issues, we added new information on the impact of development on indigenous women and unionized workers, explored union-busting in bottled water factories, and introduced youth to the issue of pinkwashing. The Youth and the Labour Movement project provides us with an invaluable opportunity to reflect on our workshops, study evaluation forms closely, and add new activities and information that reinforces the connections between social and environmental justice issues.