USW National Health, Safety, Environment and Human Rights Conference Workshop Descriptions

During the Justice conference, the USW offers a number of workshops open to the conference participants. Please make your reservation when you register as there is a limited number of seats for each workshop.

Tueday, October 3

A Different Kind of Steward

Unions in Quebec are leading the way with their system of “social stewards”. Learn how shop-floor union members are helping their brothers and sisters deal with life’s challenges.

Climate Change and Just Transitions

In 2015, in Paris, over 190 countries (including Canada) signed on to an agreement to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To meet this goal, it is recognized that a reduction and eventual elimination of fossil fuels will be necessary. Millions of workers and their communities are dependent on the extraction, production and delivery of fossil fuels. There must be a “just transition” for workers who will lose jobs as a result. This session will look at what we want a just transition to look like and how we as Steelworkers fight to ensure that it happens.

Crossing the Rubicon: Recent Trends in Workplace Accident Investigations

The success of the Union’s Stop The Killing Campaign has led to an increased focus on criminal and regulatory prosecutions in the wake of serious workplace accidents and fatalities. When investigators show up, what are our members’ rights and responsibilities? How should the Union respond? This workshop will discuss the legal framework for workplace accident prosecutions and explore the role of the Union and its members in the investigation process.

Environmental Justice

The negative effects of environmental degradation are disproportionally felt by marginalized communities. First nations, racialized and low income communities are often in the path of development projects that leave devastating environmental impacts. They are often subject to displacement or force to stay in unhealthy environments. This session will look at the history of environmental racism worldwide with a focus on historical examples.

Joining the Global Fight

Trade union activists from Latin America lead a workshop that will connect our struggles with the global movement for human, labour and health, safety and environmental rights.

Let’s Put Breast Cancer Out of Work

This is an innovative program developed in partnership by the United Steelworkers, USW Women of Steel and the BlueGreen Alliance. Together, we are working to put breast cancer out of work by looking at the role of chemical exposure in cancer and other diseases; by building coalitions with other unions, environmentalists and women’s health groups to raise public awareness; by pushing for new policies that regulate chemical exposure and by equipping workers and employers to join the do-it-yourself safer chemicals effort to prevent harmful exposures.

New Worker Awareness

New workers are more likely to be killed or injured on the job. This workshop will highlight our successful USW New Worker Awareness program which will give participants an opportunity to design and deliver New Worker Awareness programs in their workplaces, high schools or in the community. This program provides excellent material especially for students and newly hired workers.

Hazard Identification vs. Risk Assessment

What happens when hazard identification morphs into risk assessment?   Hazard identification asks whether a workplace condition can cause harm. Risk assessment asks how likely it is that the harm will occur. This workshop will discuss how to base risk assessments on worker experience combined with good scientific principles.

Working while Black

Learn how police surveillance and other forms of anti-black racism affect Black workers on the job and in the community, and strategize for solutions.

 

Wednesday, October 4 - MORNING

Drug & Alcohol Testing and Medical Marijuana and the Workplace

How do we balance employees’ right to privacy against employers’ concerns about drugs and alcohol in the workplace? What position do we take as a Union and why? And what does the law have to say? This workshop will explore the debate about drug and alcohol testing and discuss the challenges posed by the legalization of medical marijuana.

Expanding Gender Equality: Understanding and Supporting Gender Diversity

The world of gender is much more diverse than just Male and Female. How do we think about and understand gender? What challenges do transgender and other gender diverse people face? How do we speak respectfully about gender diversity? In this workshop, we will explore how we, as individuals and as a union, can become activists for safety and equality for people of all genders. 

Curent Forestry Health & Safety Issues

Participants will learn of the new and current hazards within the forest industry. There will be interactive discussions of what the emerging health and safety issues are in this evolving sector and what actions must be taken.

New Perspectives on Organizing

A changing workforce and union mean we need more and different ways to organize our members, new members and in our communities. This workshop will look at how our organizing strategies, programs and structures can reflect that growing diversity and build in attention to equity issues.

Occupational Disease Investigation

Workers are exposed to a variety of chemical and physical hazards which may result in serious health effects. Many of the cancers, diseases and ailments surface and affect workers many years after the exposures. The participants in this workshop will explore different tools to address the issue and controls.

Promoting Mental Health at Work and in the Union

This workshop will establish why mental health is a legitimate union issue, cover basic legal frameworks and processes regarding mental disability, identify risk factors at work, help create a self-care plan, and develop an action plan for your local union.

Union Action against Bullying and Harassment

Ending workplace bullying and harassment is a goal of both human rights AND health and safety activists. Update your toolkit and share tips on how to build respectful, safe workplaces.

Updates on Human Rights and Federal Health & Safety Law

Staff of USW’s Legal Department will update you on emerging trends and key issues that local union activists need to know regarding human rights law as well as amendments to Part II of the Canada Labour Code.

Time for a Change

In this interactive workshop, explore 500+ years of history between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. We’ll look at how this relationship has been damaged over the years and our union’s role in reconciliation.


Wednesday, October 4 - AFTERNOON

Bargaining Equality

We can fight for equality through collective bargaining! Learn how an equality audit can be used in bargaining preparation, talk about options for closing the wage gap, and identify different points in the bargaining process where activists can have an impact.

Behaviour Based Safety and Incentive Programs

Are workers the primary problem to be fixed or an invaluable resource that needs to be harnessed?  How can we move from blame & shame programs to something much more effective?  Programs that hide accidents and look for someone to blame instead of eliminating hazards result in a more dangerous workplace.  A new learning approach is needed that takes advantage of the knowledge and experience of workers instead of creating an environment where accident and incident reporting is discouraged and workers fear reprisals.

Current Forestry Health & Safety Issues

Participants will learn of the new and current hazards within the forest industry. There will be interactive discussions of what the emerging health and safety issues are in this evolving sector and what actions must be taken.

Domestic Violence at Work

—Warning: The discussions and videos in this course may be disturbing—
Domestic violence is a workplace health and safety issue because threats and risks follow us to work. Learn some basics about warning signs and risk factors. Discuss our union’s role in keeping us safe at work, and develop strategies for making a difference through bargaining, workplace supports, member education, public awareness and political action.

Facts on Your Phone: Effective Online Research for Health and Safety and Human Rights Activists

Develop online research skills using electronic devices from phones to laptops and tablets. We will solve a case study by preparing effective questions, locating dependable electronic sources, creating a personal electronic library, and using electronic libraries to build solidarity. Bring your mobile device!

Looking for Trouble

We look for trouble, because if we don’t, trouble will come looking for us. Participants will learn about this comprehensive Health & Safety program which examines accident investigations, hazard identification and risk assessments, dealing with workplace change and ongoing evaluation, to name a few of the most important topics.

Occupational Disease Prevention

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Promoting Mental Health at Work and in the Union

This workshop will establish why mental health is a legitimate union issue, cover basic legal frameworks and processes regarding mental disability, identify risk factors at work, help create a self-care plan, and develop an action plan for your local union.

Innovative Union Management Collaboration for Return to Work

Participants will examine the need for joint Return to Work (RTW) programs at all workplaces to ensure workers with disabilities are treated fairly and justly. Topics to be discussed will included the elements of a RTW plan, the roles of people involved in the process, ranging from management, health care providers, to unions and co-workers. It will also cover types of accommodations and the hierarchy of return-to-work options. This workshop will include an actual Management and Labour facilitator which will keep the discussions interesting.