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IWW Work People’s College Event a Success - A Day of Education and Discussion

By FW John O’Reilly

On Saturday April 16, IWW members and friends enjoyed a day of free educational talks in the new union office in South Minneapolis. The event was organized by the Work People’s College, a committee of the IWW branch, and promoted ideas and conversations about different important themes that working people are facing today. Over 60 people attended the talks through the course of the day, and many members took away important lessons and invaluable conversations.
Class topics included an update and discussion about the current struggles faced by pro-democracy movements in the Middle East and Northern Africa, a panel featuring organizers working in the low-wage sector and a talk about the importance of the strike as a tactic for workers. Members of the Madison IWW branch came to help lead reflections about the movement for a general strike in Wisconsin and where the situation stands today. Throughout the day, Wobblies talked and showed a characteristic dedication to educating one another and ourselves.
Event organizer Kieran Knutson said that the purpose of the event was to reactivate the educational arm of the Twin Cities IWW and to try out the format of an all day program. Participants listened to talks and panels but audience participation and discussion was a key part of the event’s success.
“The most exciting part of the day was the opportunity to hear fellow workers’ thoughts on broad issues and analysis that we don’t often get the time to talk out in business meetings,” added FW Knutson.
The Work People’s College Committee also comes out of an older IWW educational body. The name comes from a labor school that the IWW ran in northern Minnesota for several decades.
“The original Work People’s College helped educate and train working class activists and organizers,” FW Knutson said, “We are trying to root ourselves in that tradition.”
The Work People’s College of old, located just outside of Duluth, was a center for worker’s education and IWW ideas and tactics and ran off the strength of the Finnish unionist movement of the Iron Range.
Today, the efforts of the Twin Cities Work People’s College Committee is centered in the modern-day need for workers to educate ourselves about our movement and our world.
There are plans to evaluate and reflect on the effectiveness of the Work People’s College day. If post-event considerations are positive enough, plans may be made to host another in upcoming months.