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Powering the Next Generation

April 28, 2023

On the last day of the USW National Policy Conference, USW NextGen Steelworkers took the stage and gave an update on their activities since the last conference.

In District 3, a NextGen course was held at the District 3 Summer School in Kimberley, B.C. They were able to retain the activists from that school and kept them engaged. The committee has created different pathways for NextGen members to be informed through new communication channels.

District 3 has also been busy organizing young workers in non-traditional union workplaces. Specifically, the district has seen a spike in organizing Starbucks locations with a majority of young workers. This spike in organizing is part of the wave of the next generation of workers realizing that they are worth more than what is being given to them.

“Young workers, specifically Gen Z, are more in tune with the labour movement and that together, we can build stronger workplaces,” said Aman Chumber, USW Local 2009.

District 5 NextGen members were successful in passing two resolutions at the annual conference, Assemblée annuelle: to hold a young workers forum every three years and to encourage every District 5 local union to contribute to the USW Family and Community Education Fund (FCEF). The FCEF has been a valuable resource for the NextGen Committee to carry out some of their events to engage and encourage young workers to attend union events.

Emerging from the 2022 Young Workers Forum, the District 5 NextGen Committee is working with the Education Department on a new education and training program, which will be offered to young activists later this year.

The District 6 NextGen Committee has been focusing on providing training and workshops for NextGen members. The committee often collaborates with the District 6 Political Action Committee on the workshops and political work during elections.  

The committee meets quarterly and gets updates from the district to disperse the information to NextGen committees and local unions across the district.

To wrap the session, the panelists were posed a question of what advice they can give to upcoming young workers.

“Get yourselves involved in other aspects of your local union’s work, such as bargaining and lobbying. Carve out your space,” said Samy Emond Aboutalib, USW/Métallos Local 5778.

Briana Broderick of USW Local 2010 also concluded with a final call to seasoned activists, “Take NextGen members under your wings and empower them. We’re committed to carrying the torch to keep our union strong.”

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