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Rob Wedel on Workplace Literacy

Sarah Evans and Rob Wedel are both workplace literacy instructors at Capilano College in North Vancouver, British Columbia. In August, Sarah interviewed Rob. Here are notes from their conversation.

BEST: Basic Education for Skills Training is an approach to worker-centred literacy developed by the Ontario Federation of Labour in the 1980s and adapted by unions throughout the country. Through BEST, co-workers were trained as course leaders to instruct literacy and basic skills training in their workplaces. In 1996, the Hospital Employees Union in British Columbia started adapting this model by adding a role for the college instructor in the classroom while maintaining the use of peer tutors.

JUMP: The Joint Union Management Program, which started in 1994 and ran until 1997, was a cooperative initiative of unions and employers in the British Columbia forestry industry, with funding from Forest Renewal British Columbia. The goal of JUMP was to advance the industry through investing in the workforce and creating a learning culture in pulp and paper. LEAP was one of many programs initiated under JUMP.

LEAP: Learning and Education Assisted by Peers is an approach to worker-centred literacy developed in 1997 in the British Columbia forestry industry. LEAP programs were run by trained peer tutors, with the college instructors as a distant resource.

Sarah: In my experience, no one comes to literacy work along a straight line.
None of us planned to do this when we grew up. How did you end up in this work?

Rob: I was in the construction trades for quite a few years and they had this top-up UI [Unemployment Insurance] program so that you could still go to work and get UI for a little extra money. I got a job at community services in Abbotsford [British Columbia]. The job was volunteer coordinator/interviewer. So you would recruit volunteers and then you would interview them and offer them a position in something they would enjoy.

Sarah: Like a job placement?

Rob: Like a volunteer position in the community. I would do the interview, make my recommendation to where I thought they should be placed and then we would discuss that. I was doing that for a month or two and an ad came out in the paper for a volunteer tutor coordinator for Fraser Valley College in a contract with Corrections Canada. I had this supposed experience as a volunteer coordinator, and I had my teaching certificate, and so I went for the interview and was offered the job. I took over a program from a person named Linda Forsythe who was doing the tutor program at Kent Maximum Security Institution for Frontier College. I don’t know what happened to that contract, but Fraser Valley College picked it up and I followed in her footsteps and recruited both inmate and community tutors and trained them and paired them with learners in the prison system That’s how I got started in literacy work.

Sarah: I remember you talking about this before. That’s trial-by-fire!

Rob: Yes, it was quite a place to try and make something like this work: All the fine lines of security and whether you were crossing the line. The prison people essentially hated us for doing this, but the learners and the tutors loved it because they got all this outside contact. So they protected the program and looked out for it. In fact, numerous times they told me what days to come and what days not to come and, of course, some incident would happen the day I was told not to come. So they were very careful to make sure we were protected.

Sarah: You had a lot of champions.

Rob: Yeah. (Laughs).

Sarah: Was that your first - because you had a teaching certificate, but you were working in construction - was working in the prisons your first teaching role or had you taught before with your certificate?

Rob: Just short-term substitute work. Offered a few jobs and they all fell through.

Sarah: You were looking to get out of construction? Or did this thing just come up?

Rob: I had trained to become a teacher. But the public school system turned me off quite a bit, with my experience with it. I became less and less interested in making myself available as a substitute teacher for the public system. The longer the construction would last in a year, the longer I would stay with it.

Sarah: What turned you off the public school system?

Rob: A lot of it was in Junior High when all you did was just try and stop students from tearing each others eyes out or creating a riot, so it was just a matching of wits with the students who loved to see if they could get the substitute to run screaming out of room.

Sarah: That sounds like good training for the prisons actually. (both laugh).

Rob: Lots of screaming in the prison program too—if we didn’t do what somebody wanted.

Sarah: So how long did you do the volunteer tutor program in the prison?

Rob: I think we had the contract for three or four years and then I got into administrative stuff when I became less of a tutor coordinator and more of a coordinator of the programs. We were at Matsqui Medium, Ferndale Minimum, Mission Medium, Kent Maximum and at Mountain Medium.

Sarah: That’s a lot of programs.

Rob: Yup.

Sarah: I guess through all that you started to develop a pretty clear idea of what literacy means to you.

Rob: My definition of it has changed dramatically from where I started. I initially thought it was just about reading and writing, but I’ve come to accept UNESCO’s definition, which is to contribute effectively to your society’s development. I think that is closer to what literacy means to me now and I think those words are really important because if you’re not literate you can’t supposedly - and I believe this to be true—that you can’t effect positive change in your community. That’s how I define literacy now. That ability to communicate. Communication is a word that covers a lot of territory. What does communication mean if you have a power-engineering certificate in a pulp mill or if you are talking medical terminology in a hospital? That’s a different kind of literacy than what we normally call literacy. But this set of literacy skills is incredibly important to those learners if they want to effectively contribute. So that definition, in my mind, has become so wide, so encompassing of so many different skill sets. It is not the simple ABC stuff that I first thought literacy was all about.

Sarah: It really depends on the context.

Rob: Absolutely. Again that definition includes development of the community. Well, that’s a huge aspect of most people’s lives. What’s troubling is that a lot of people who aren’t effectively contributing don’t recognize that they are not.. But that’s another whole other issue.

Sarah: Even among people who are supposedly literate… So how did you make the move from prison literacy to workplace literacy?

Rob: As one of the athletes said in the current Olympics, “None of our lives go in a straight line, we all get pushed this way or that depending on what we are dealing with.” The contract ended with Corrections Canada and was given over to the private trainers and none of us were interested in continuing with that, or at least I wasn’t. So I went and tried to piecemeal work together at Fraser Valley College. I did GED preparation and just took pieces of work. And then Capilano College had an opening to cover an English instructor in Sechelt [British Columbia], so I inquired about it, was interviewed and was offered a few sections of work. Then I started with Cap and then, after a couple of terms of partial work, they were able to offer me more and more work, so I made the switch to Cap and cut my ties to Fraser Valley College. After a year or two, I to work with the SARAW [Speech Assisted Reading and Writing] program at Cap.

Sarah: That’s a literacy program for physically challenged people right?

Rob: Yes. I also dabbled in a couple of different projects with the college that were out of the mainstream. Within a few years, we were contacted by Sylvia Sioufi from HEU [Hospital Employees’ Union] and she wanted to set up a BEST-type program in the hospitals in BC. This started an on-going dialogue with Sylvia, Pat Hodgson [from Capilano College] and I, and we started to build a relationship of trust with Sylvia. This initial dialogue with the union partner is one of the most critical components of workplace literacy programs. Through long discussions (before initiating the LEAP program, we had meetings with the JUMP Coordinators for a year and a half) around philosophical issues and possible delivery models, you begin to develop a strong sense of trust with your partners. You need to have this trust before you can create solid programs. Through these discussions with Sylvia, Pat and I, we developed what’s come to be termed as the hybrid model, which is an instructor and trained peer tutors working with learners in the workplace. We did a pilot program at VGH [Vancouver General Hospital], followed the next year by another pilot program at SMH [Surrey Memorial Hospital]. Then the HLAA [Healthcare Labour Adjustment Agency] took over the funding for these programs and provided some stability, and so we operated for a number of years under that funding source.

Sarah: What year was that first pilot at VGH?

Rob: ’97, ’98.

Sarah: The hybrid model—can you talk more about it?

Rob: Most literacy programs in the workplace or outside of the workplace evolve depending on the circumstances they encounter. The unions we worked with, including the HEU and those in the pulp and paper sector, wanted to embrace the peer tutors as the primary source of instruction. They thought that was critical to the programs’ success, and I’ve come to agree with them completely.

Sarah: Why?

Rob: Because, as our partners have said to me over and over again, that people learn from their peers in the workplace whether it’s job-related or otherwise. I had some trepidation about relying completely on the tutors, especially in the LEAP program where the instructor was not in the classroom, but I came to see how well it did work. And, yes, the training of the peer tutors is critical to get them philosophically on the same page around what peers can do and should do. Once they start to understand the philosophy of what we are trying to do, then they become much better tutors in that they allow the learners to really direct the learning. Then they just act as coaches and cheerleaders, and sometimes experts if they are being asked to do that. The hybrid model. In earlier discussions with Sylvia, she recognized that there were other issues or other learning needs that tutors might not be able to meet, and she agreed, especially at a very culturally-diverse place like VGH, that it would probably work to have both the tutor and the teacher in the room. Even though the tutors would sometimes defer to the instructor (and that’s not what we wanted to see), the model worked very well. And looking back, that was a very successful model, because the instructors who were involved in that hybrid model really believed in empowerment for the tutors, and they embraced that concept and strove to make it happen. I think we learned in the pulp and paper sector that there wasn’t as much need for the instructor to be in the room because their clientele wasn’t as culturally diverse. Although we had a hell of a surprise when we piloted the LEAP Program for one year at the Skeena Cellulose mill in Prince Rupert. We didn’t realize, starting out, that we had a very diverse cultural population at that mill and probably 40 to 50 per cent of the group were English-as-a-Second-Language learners, and they could not deal with the open-ended LEAP delivery model. LEAP does not have structured grade-levels, so it wasn't clear for them to see how they were achieving any of their goals. So we had a real problem with that program and it just about fizzled and died in that first year because we could not react fast enough to what the problems were there. People like Jim Dixon [Communications, Energy & Paperworkers’ Union of Canada] and Rob Tukham [Pulp and Paper Workers of Canada], the literacy advocates for their unions, would probably agree with me at this point and say that we should have gone in with more of a health-care type, hybrid model, where the instructor is actually in the classroom for a portion of the time.

Sarah: So when people talk, nationally, of the hybrid model in BC, they are really talking about BC’s version of the BEST program, where there are peer instructors and an instructor in the room. When we talk about LEAP, it’s actually not the hybrid model. LEAP is more like BEST originally was in Ontario with peer instructors being the only instructors in the room and the College instructor as a distant resource.

Rob: Yes.

Sarah: That’s interesting. I always thought that the reason you went with the LEAP-style model in the pulp and paper mills was because the programs were in Prince George and [the Capilano College instructors] were in North Vancouver. I thought it was because of convenience and geography. Of course, I also knew that Jim Dixon and Rob Tukham were pushing for that, that they wanted the tutors to have more autonomy and to not have an outside instructor in the classroom at all. I knew they were pushing for that for political reasons because it would be more empowering to the participants to see their peers right up there. I didn’t get the diversity link. Or did you find that out in retrospect?

Rob: I’ve come to believe, regarding these different models of delivery, is that it really depends on the circumstances of that workplace, and each workplace is different than the other. The Prince George and the Fort St John mills are essentially 30-50 year-old white males with very little cultural diversity, so the learning needs are very typical expected kinds of thing.

Sarah: They are interested in upgrading their computer skills, in upgrading their power-engineering certificate or preparing for trades certification. It’s very specific to the workplace. There were quite a few people interested in obtaining their GED. Again, GED prep has very clearly defined goals. And it is easier for tutors to react to because they are familiar with those goals, and they are not outside of their realm of experience. Whereas the English as a Second Language needs were so diverse. They were everything from very basic English literacy development to improving speaking skills and communication skills, which is another level of complexity which is very difficult for a tutor to work with.

Sarah: Yes, and a lot of different cultural expectations about what teaching should look like and what learning should look like.

Rob: Exactly. Some of the cultures could not embrace the idea of the learner-focus because they could not see how that could achieve their goals which were structured grade levels, and so it was very difficult because our tutors were not trained to deal with that.

Sarah: That’s a constant tension, I think, in learner-focused programs. That makes sense to me. I had the same experience at the racetrack [1]. The more diverse the learner population, the more you probably need an instructor presence to help guide what’s going on.

Rob: That’s right. And, as you know, the instructor needs to know or learn when to step in and when to step away, which is a hard thing to learn to do. It’s all about trying to read people and see how they are doing and what their level of satisfaction is with how things are going. I’ve seen it work so well. You provide some direction to the pair, or the threesome of tutors and learners and you step back away from that and walk to the other side of the room and turn around and watch what’s happening. If you see some incredibly powerful learning going on, from both sides, then you know it's working. I remember being at Surrey Memorial Hospital in the second year, and, by the time two months had passed, I was wondering what I was doing in the classroom at all. Because nobody needed me to do anything! They all knew what they wanted to do next and it was all focused on what the learners had identified. The tutors got them to clearly define their goals, and then they would just work. And so you would just walk in and the room was buzzing and you say to yourself, “I should just get the hell out of here, because there is no reason for me to be here because I’ll just interfere.” And then you know, hey, it’s working! This where you want to get to.

Sarah: What attracted you to doing workplace literacy work when it came up at Cap College?

Rob: I think part of the attraction was that I always identified with, not so much being a union member, but being a working stiff myself and seeing all the needs that surrounded me with my work mates and how there was no place for them. They couldn’t access regular programming because of their shifts, and in construction you have to be so mobile. You are in one city for two weeks and another city for the next three weeks, so you couldn’t enroll in any kind of programming that was out there anyway. I always thought it would sure be cool to do something in the camps, when I used to stay in camps. And, of course, I found out years later that Frontier College had done some of that work decades ago, when they set up literacy classes in the camps. So I think there are two things that attracted me to working in workplace literacy programs. One, as I stated, was the immense need I knew would be out there. The other thing was boredom: I taught regular English in the ABE [Adult Basic Education] program for a number of years at Capilano College, and I was getting a little bored with the structure of that. And so, when I had the opportunity to try something and work with working people, I just jumped at it. I just thought this was too cool! And Sylvia’s idea was just fabulous. I knew nothing about BEST at that point. But we worked through that, discussed and thought about and developed our delivery model. In spite of management’s negative expectations, it was a huge recruitment success as learner demand was ten times higher than the number of spaces we had to offer. So that excited me even more when we realized how big of an audience we had out there and how many were interested in getting involved with the program. The program at VGH could have run for another ten years without running out of learners. I don’t think they’d ever run out of learners. So it was just a cool thing to do. You just get hooked as you see some of the successes.

Sarah: Like what? Can you talk about some specific stories?

Rob: Yes. I’ll never forget one learner at VGH who wanted to move into landscaping. He figured he didn’t have the skills he needed to convert measurements from imperial into metric and back and forth. I think hewas with the program for two or three months, less than the full term, because once the tutor worked with him and found he wasn’t bad at math at all, he quickly learned how to convert and learned the correct equivalencies. He got a job in the area where he wanted to work. So, when he was out mowing the lawns, he’d see me, and he would jump off the mower and run over to me and tell me what a great job we were doing.

There were just hundreds of stories I’ve seen—everything from the accomplishment of the GED certificate, and how this achievement changes the learner's entire life. One of our tutors didn’t have his grade twelve equivalencies. And he helped other learners achieve theirs and one day he decided to get his own, and he did and it changed his whole life, his family life, his whole world. He started to carry himself with so much more self-esteem that it carried into his family relationships, into his workplace, into his community: it was a huge personal success.

Another story is about one of the tutors we had at [Canfor] Northwood Pulp Mill. She was a qualified nurse. She was convinced by the on-site LEAP Coordinator to become a LEAP tutor, and she went through the training, and completed one year of tutoring, when she realized that this was something she wanted to do for the rest of her life, that is, helping people achieve their learning goals. So she’s gone back to school to get her instructors’ diploma so she can go back into the field of nursing and teach other nurses.

Some of the successes aren’t even identified when you are starting out. You are aiming to help the learners primarily and then you recognize your tutors are starting to achieve their goals. It’s pretty powerful stuff and again, as I said, it kind of hooks you. You get incredible gratification for the kind of work you’re involved in. In this work, you’re just helping. You’re just another peer. The college people should never see themselves as anything but that. We are just workers helping workers, and I think that’s the key to the philosophy. It works all the way through the model. If everyone is tied to that model philosophically, then it’s going to work.

Sarah: Literacy is empowering for the learners, it’s empowering for the tutors. How about for the instructors personally? What would you’ve gained from doing this work?

Rob: A much deeper appreciation for, you know it sounds corny but, for the human endeavour, you know, to improve, and how you can be a part of that. Because it's such a huge thing when you start to realize you’re touching lives everywhere you hit the ground. As I became involved in different programs, it was just so cool to see that I’m affecting maybe 100 different people’s lives every day throughout the province because of stuff that I’ve started. It’s pretty exciting to feel that. It is so gratifying. And it’s a horrible shame when you are pushed out or the program ends or the funding ends and that all stops.

Sarah: We talk about exhilaration of programs when they work and the disappointment of programs when they end prematurely. So what happened with BEST and with LEAP?

Rob: With both programs, there was a third party providing the funding. It wasn’t coming directly from either the employer or the unions; it was coming from royalties or labour adjustment agencies. And when these ceased to exist, then, typically, the employer wasn’t convinced that the program was worth while funding. As these programs were most often seen as union-driven, union-run, union-coordinated programs, the employer felt they "really didn’t know what was going on in those sessions" and didn’t trust the union enough to continue. They certainly weren’t interested in funding them.

Sarah: The employer wasn’t really behind the idea. They just did it because it was no skin off their nose.

Rob: That’s right, it didn’t cost them anything. In fact, there were allegations by some union members that the employer was gaining extra funds by being involved with the program by not covering people that were coming to the classroom. Hence, they would get money for that person’s participation but they wouldn’t be paying it out to anybody else to cover. This didn’t help the program because there was a lot of animosity when people weren’t covered and they would go back and be blamed for not getting their work done.

Sarah: But ultimately, my understanding is that what killed BEST in the end wasn’t any internal dynamics such as how to cover people off on their shift when they were going to the program. It was the loss of the funding from the Healthcare Labour Adjustment Agency. The bigger picture changed.

Rob: Yes. And as I said before, the other issue was that the HEU became much more interested in trying to preserve the jobs that were being cut by the provincial government and the offering of contracts to private entrepreneurs who would take over HEU members' work.

Sarah: After the last provincial election?

Rob: Yes. The LEAP program dealt with the same kind of loss of funding when the JUMP folded up. And again, there is still a glimmer of hope in one of the locals at one of the mills. Since they saw this coming, they bargained for a clause that would provide them funds, in their Collective Agreement, so that they will be able to continue to fund programs like LEAP at their site. So we’ll see how this works, and we’ll also see whether we can continue the LEAP-type program without the employer being committed to be involved. Those are questions that need to be answered yet.

Sarah: Both of the programs, LEAP and BEST had some form of government funding in the beginning to start them up. But ultimately that wasn’t what could keep them going sustainably.

Rob: That’s right.

Sarah: So it seems like an ongoing situation, an ongoing problem, in workplace literacy programs is that the context in which you are doing the work continually shifts and the support for the programs continually shifts, so you are trying to develop something in a really dynamic environment. Can you talk about that?

Rob: Working in this field, in literacy projects in the workplace, you are constantly trying to strive for some kind of sustainability. I’m reminded of a passage in Doris Lessing’s book where she talks about these people who she calls boulder-pushers. Every day these boulder-pushers strive to push this boulder up this hill. Then, some catastrophe strikes, like a hurricane, a wicked rainstorm or an earthquake, and the boulders start rolling back down the hill. But the next day the boulder-pushers are out there again and they start pushing the boulders back up the hill. And the wise men up on top of the hill are looking down and saying, “Good to see those boulder-pushers are still trying to push those boulders up the hill". So, as I’ve often had this discussion with Tamara Levine, [Workplace Literacy Project Coordinator, Canadian Labour Congress] over the year

Sarah: you keep pushing, you gain a bit, you slide backwards, you gain a bit more but you never really go back to the bottom. There’s always something that remains that you continue with, and sometimes it's very hard to be positive when the boulders going the wrong way. But, I guess as long as it doesn’t go all the way back down the hill, you’ve still got something to go on.

I’m reminded of a much closer analogy to my work, and that is what you’re doing at the racetrack. That’s a huge progression of this boulder-pushing that we're doing, and in a completely different area, one that I have not been involved with, but because of our work together, it’s part of pushing that boulder in the right direction. That’s the way this work goes and Tamara has tried to tell me that over the years that she’s watched this collapse and then this sudden encouraging development and then collapse. It does get tiresome.

Sarah: It takes a toll.

Rob: Yes. But as I’ve said earlier, when you recognize how many people you are
effecting everyday and how that circle can grow that’s what puts you back on that exhilaration level. As far away as it is for me, I even take some of that gratification from the racetrack work that you are doing. It’s like, in a far-off way, I’ve been part of the learner successes at the racetrack even though I’m miles away.

Sarah: It’s all linked. I always think of weaving things together. It’s a different analogy but, because I worked with you at Vancouver General, I bring some of that to understanding how to do the program at the racetrack.

Rob: Absolutely.

Sarah: Also we’ve been working really hard to link our new champions, from the
racetrack, particularly those who are in the unions at the racetrack, to our other union champions, from the CEP, PPWC, HEU, so they can share their experiences, all this weaving together of the different pieces.

Rob: Exactly. One thing that you wanted me to talk about was the Working Together project.[2] One thing that this project has really helped to do in BC is to solidify our champions. It seems like a small, tiny objective, but it’s clearly the most important and most effective. This Project has allowed those champions to learn from the experiences they’ve had with their different programs, to start to share them, to start to be proud of them, and through that, they’ve been able to convince others that they should take up the torch as well. That’s been an amazing thing to watch because what we’ve done here is we’ve mentored these folks to become highly effective champions. We’ve helped them partially through our training, but more by modelling what we want to see in the learning process, and they have taken it by the horns and learned. They have now become the primary focus or attention of the Working Together Project because they are the ones that made their Programs work. The college people can say they have all this expertise, but the audience really wants to hear from the guys who are actually doing it at the worksite. That’s what convinces others that this might be a worthwhile endeavour.

Sarah: It’s a continuation of the process of what you were talking about – the process of stepping back. Now there is a whole other level on which we can step back as advocates and make a space for the people who are really convincing and who really know.

Rob: That’s right. That’s what happened at [the Working Together Spring 2004 Training] in Whistler, BC. That was incredible to watch those guys take over and own it. And you know those other participants would just take one look at these people and just go "My God!” There is instant credibility there. And they are so articulate. I don’t know how lucky we are to grab the people we got. Well, they came forward I guess.

Sarah: Do you want to add anything on the topic of health? Because the issue is about literacy and health.

Rob: It’s hard to make any comment on health, because in BC the context as such is changing, and in most cases these are negative changes. People losing their jobs or people being asked to roll back their wages, as well as the constant encouragement by the provincial government to contract out work. What really annoys me, is the contracts are going out to firms not even from this province but from Alberta or even to the States.

So it’s been really hard for literacy advocates like us to even be heard at the union level because they’re desperately trying to retain their jobs. We don’t even get on the radar screen in healthcare these days because we’re not even close to being a priority. The Government throws money at transition education programs, and again, often to private trainers, who are happy to take the money and, at least on the surface, provide minimal kinds of assistance to the workers in transition. It’s just a sham. It will take us years to recover in the healthcare system and I don’t know that we will ever recover. That boulder is almost at the bottom of hill.

Sarah: The BEST programs helped people get to that place where they could have the confidence and the skills to contribute to society. And then, inversely, as the situation in the healthcare field shows, the neo-liberal agenda is currently so totalizing that there aren’t very many avenues left for people to be able to contribute back.

Rob: The only thing they are interested in is a quick fix to help somebody with a transition that’s job-specific, and so we don’t fit in there. We don’t provide that kind of training. The "quick-fix" training just doesn’t fit in our philosophy. Yes, I’d rather us do it than others, but no one is willing to pay the bill for doing a job that we would be happy with or satisfied with because it’s much bigger—it’s helping people contribute to their society, not contribute to the workplace only. But that’s what they want and that’s all that they’ll pay for—“I want to see my people become better employees and I’ll give you 50 bucks per person if you can do that overnight.” You know, we just can’t and won't do that.

Sarah: And we're not in the business of doing that.

Rob: No.

Sarah: So where do we go? What’s the next step?

Rob: I think one of the primary objectives of Working Together is to move into other unionized environments that are more friendly and maybe more supportive. I think that’s the only thing that will get us around this. I think as I mentioned earlier, one of the pulp mills in Prince George has got it included as part of their collective bargaining, and I think that’s the future for union driven programs. In this way, the union will continue to coordinate and have free reign to do what they like in the classroom. I think that’s the only way. The document from CLC that Sylvia wrote around bargaining for basic skills is something that everyone needs to read. As we’ve discovered in initial conversations around the future of LEAP, if you get that in the collective bargaining, the locals will have freedom to do the kind of programming that they want to do. They may not want to do LEAP every year. In fact that might not be a good idea. But they could do some of the Seeds for Change or some of the other union-driven agenda items in those sessions and that would be a huge success. And the employer, as long as the clause is in the Collective Agreement cannot direct what goes on in that classroom. Sure it would probably have to be off-site for the union-type curriculum stuff, but I think that is where the unions will gain some real empowerment around learning for their members. And maybe alternate years to LEAP, they can do some really cool stuff like “Seeds” or some of those things.

Sarah: If the union owns the program more, if it is enshrined in the Collective Agreement and if (there are so many ifs) the Collective Agreement doesn’t get torn up.

Rob: That’s right. Back to pushing that boulder.

[1] The Hastings Park Workplace Education Project takes place in and around Hastings Park Racecourse in Vancouver, BC. The project is now in its fourth year.

[2] Working Together is a joint project of the BC Federation of Labour, Capilano College, and participating unions to promote literacy and lifelong learning for union members. Some funding is provided by the National Literacy Secretariat.

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