“No Union dollar is better spent than one for education.”
(TCU International President Robert A. Scardelletti)
Among all the unions of the AFL-CIO, TCU stands out as the only one committed to providing each and every local representative with at least one week of formal, in-residence education during the interval between each Grand Lodge Convention
Over two decades ago, the AFL-CIO dedicated the George Meany Center for Labor Studies in Silver Spring, Maryland as its National Labor Campus. TCU was there from the start, offering educational programs for local representatives aimed at providing members with the most competent representation possible, with major emphasis on grievance writing and representing members at disciplinary hearings. We referred to the process as leadership development, a term we still use.
In 1991, TCU’s educational programs were restructured from the ground up under the direction of then newly-elected International President Robert Scardelletti, who saw a need to refocus and tighten the curriculum to better address the latest developments in labor law and the changing workplace. The resulting programs were unveiled in early 1992, and featured not only a completely revamped basic course, but a brand new advanced course for local leaders who had previously taken the basic program.
The two new courses continued to evolve during the next few years, with added segments on the Family and Medical leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, sexual harassment and other topical issues. But as good as the revitalized courses were, there was still a basic flaw in TCU’s educational philosophy: even though the International paid the cost of room and board at the Meany Center, all the lost wages, travel costs and expenses of attendees were the responsibility of the District, Local or Board. This meant that many smaller units did not have the financial resources to send a representative for training.
Seeking equal educational opportunity for all representatives (and equally competent representation for all TCU members), President Scardelletti personally authored and submitted a resolution at the 1995 Grand Lodge Convention calling for a 50 cents per-member per-month assessment to create an Education Fund in order to significantly expand the Union’s ability to train Local and District officers, who would use that increased knowledge to fight for members’ rights on the job.
As an indication of the overwhelming support given to this key resolution, delegates to both the Carmen Convention and the full TCU Convention unanimously supported the 50 cent assessment for the universal training of TCU reps, and even took the historic step of making this assessment a permanent part of TCU’s Constitution.
Under the 1995 mandate, during the interval between TCU Conventions, each Local and District has the opportunity to send their Chairperson to a full week of training at the George Meany Center, with all expenses, including lost wages and the cost of travel by air, rail or auto paid by the TCU Education Fund. And in addition, in January 1999 we added a next generation class–Advanced Leadership Development II–for reps who have attended both basic and advanced seminars in the past. Special classes for women representatives and representatives from National Labor Relations Act properties have also been held.
Thanks to the action taken at the 1995 Convention, TCU’s education programs are on track for the future and will continue to improve, providing the training necessary for excellence in representation.
Shown below is a link to the George Meany Center, which in addition to being the home of TCU’s educational programs also offers a college degree program and occupation-specific institutes for union officers.