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Topics » Education

Overview

Education has long been a priority for organized labor. It was a central focus of the Knights of Labor and later the AFL. “Whatever progress the American Labor Movement makes rests on an educational basis,” said Samuel Gompers.

The AFL Workers’ Education Bureau urged that education be regarded as one of labor’s major activities, recommending that “Every industrial center...should, under the auspices of its labor organizations, have study classes, open forums and lectures for the purpose of making organized and unorganized wage earners familiar with the history, principles and problems of organized labor; and of helping them to deal adequately with the questions that arise.”

The educational mission of Rochester’s central labor bodies, coordinated since 1924 by the Education Committee, has been two-fold:

The first task was internal — to inform Council delegates and members of affiliates through presentations at Council meetings, publishing articles in Council journals, distributing material provided by the Workers’ Education Bureau, etc.

The second task involved sponsoring or supporting public programs to educate the community about issues confronting workers and unions. Among these programs the most important have been the Labor Day Parade, the Labor Lyceum, Labor Films, and Labor in the Schools.