WWEC UPDATE & CALLOUT FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
May 22, 2017|Posted in: Uncategorised
Greetings workers and WWEC supporters.
We need your help.
As we moved into 2017, we worked to increase our membership with outreach and a PayPal button on the website where supporters could make a one time donation or ongoing monthly contributions. Many sincere thanks to those who have made contributions. We also held a bowl- a -thon and a pasta sauce contest/dinner, both successful fundraisers.
At this point, however, we are 3 months behind in our rent, and will be vacating our Pelissier St. location. We will re-locate to OPIRG Windsor’s space on California Ave on the university campus. This will help us grow our finances and plan ahead. We will move out for August 1 2017. We will pay our back rent out over time, but it would be very helpful if we could raise $2200.00 over the next few weeks.
While any amount people can contribute will help, the reality is we need some substantial contributions as well as commitments for ongoing support so we can pay the rent and our modest office expenses.
Why support WWEC?
This past week alone I met with three PSW workers, all women of colour and established newcomers to Canada experiencing wage theft and unsafe work places. Also, I met with a Burmese speaking woman with a YMCA settlement officer who had family members hired by recruiters for greenhouses who have been left unpaid for work done. The need is great and WWEC needs to continue.
The Sewing Collective skills training began last week and runs through to mid-August, and is happening at All Saints Church, City Hall Square. This WWEC project is self-funding and is a step towards self-sufficiency with the development of a Worker Cooperative.
As well, I presented a submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs on Friday, July 14 on Bill 148, the new labour legislation. Those hearings continue all this week from London to Toronto.
More information follows about WWEC:
The Windsor Workers’ Education Centre (WWEC) was initiated by faculty and students in the Labour Studies Program at the University of Windsor in February, 2007. In 2008 that group acquired our current space at 328 Pelissier St.
The centre relied on paid memberships and individual/institutional donations and was able to produce pamphlets on employment law, set up a phone referral service, organize direct actions and publicity campaigns, meet with workers on a variety of workplace problems, and conduct workshops on the Employment Standards Act.
In 2013 we applied for and received a three year $216,000 Ontario Trillium Foundation grant which enabled us to hire a full time volunteer outreach coordinator who could more effectively carry out the work mentioned above. We were very successful with outreach, building community alliances with other non profit organizations such as Windsor Women Working with Immigrant Women and the YMCA Settlement office. We made contact with a greater number of workers who are women of colour employed in the non-union factories and greenhouse operations. As well, we increased the production and distribution of pamphlets and information sheets in multiple languages. The grant ended in September, 2016.
Over the three years of the grant we brought in dozens of students from St Clair College and the Volunteer Internship Program (VIP) at the University of Windsor to conduct workshops, produce literature, and promote the centre. The centre also hosts a no fee Forms Clinic operated by the St Clair College Para-Legal program, where a licensed Para-legal supervises students as they assist drop in clients filling out any manner of documents and forms.
The centre occupies a unique niche in the city core where we not only speak with workers on workplace issues, but we also have been in contact with the newest refugee arrivals as they seek to gain employment and are at risk of exploitation because of language barriers and intense pressure to find work. As well, the large community of women of colour have told us of routine occurrences of bullying, harassment, sexism, and racism in workplaces. We know a great deal of organizing needs to be done to confront these challenges.
As we continue to do the work outlined above we believe a workers’ education centre should be involved in the development of worker cooperatives so that workers can democratically control their own enterprises. Over the past summer the centre hosted a sewing collective where women learned skills necessary to run a sewing cooperative. As a result, we need more space and we are working on further grant writing toward this goal. We hope to have a self-sustaining funding model for the centre where several different but related activities are going on: the continuing work with issues presented by non-union workers, the worker run sewing collective that pays workers and makes a surplus that could sustain the centre, and research into worker coops and the effects of automation on workers.
As we stand now, our monthly income is approximately $440.00 and our monthly operating costs are approximately $1400.00. We have a group working on grant making and fundraising. Our Volunteer Outreach Coordinator continues to come in on a volunteer basis. As an interim measure, we are reaching out to you for tax deductible donations in any amount. Individual memberships payable monthly are available and can be set up for pre-authorized debit as well.
I hope this brief synopsis shows that the centre is necessary and that we are working on a self-sustaining funding model.
Your contribution will help US get there! WWEC is a WE program!
Thank you for your past support, and I am happy to answer any questions.
Board president WWEC, member at large Social Justice Windsor District Labour Council, host of campus community radio program The ShakeUp on CJAM 99.1FM