The 2018 Midwest School for Women Workers (MSWW) is coming to the University of Minnesota June 25-28. This years theme will be “Renewing our Movement, Restoring our Democracy.”
The theme reflects the belief that a vibrant labor movement, working in partnership with other movements for social justice, is the only way to fight back against attacks on public education, the environment, the social safety net, the rights of workers, immigrants and families, women, LGBTQ folks, people of color and disabled people. The labor movement is bracing for one of the most significant challenges it has ever faced with the Supreme Court's decision in the Janus case. The MSWW believes that only together is it possible to stand against the power behind these attacks and build a better world for all working people and families.
Encouraged by the rising feminist movement and the founding of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the first multi-day residential school launched in 1975 at the University of Connecticut. Since then the schools have consistently brought together rank and file women workers, officers and staff to strengthen their knowledge of the labor movement and develop skills to become more active and influential in their unions. It has often been the only opportunity many had to interact with and learn from each other in a mutually supportive setting. Over the past 37 years, the schools have educated thousands of women, many of whom have become leaders of their unions.
The schools initially had an exclusive focus on women belonging to traditional labor unions, but in the last 10 or so years they have opened to those in worker centers and workers without an official affiliation. Organizers have also been centering more awareness and programming on intersectionality and issues of identity in addition to gender, including class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, and age/generation. The 2018 School in Minnesota is specifically open to trans women, femmes, and gender non-conforming folks.
This year’s MSWW is a place for participants to meet workers and activists across many industries and from cities and states around the Midwest. It’s a place for women, transfeminine, non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming workers to learn and build the skills they need to transform their workplaces, unions or worker organizations, and society.
A bus tour of the Twin Cities will showcase some of the interesting, innovative recent organizing and activism that has been happening in Minnesota. Over four days in June, participants will learn practical, nuts-and-bolts skills that will help them be better leaders, public speakers, organizers, and advocates. They will learn from each other, from the perspectives of other workers, from historical experience, and through sessions on the workers' center movement, immigrant workers, workers of color, and LGTBQ workers.
Most participants will be sponsored by their unions, but some will receive scholarships. The organizers of MSWW can help potential participants ask their union for funding, or they can apply for a scholarship.
Online registration will be available through Friday, May 25, 2018.