University of Manitoba - Faculty of Arts - Labour Studies - Student Testimonials
Student Testimonials

What can you do with a degree in Labour Studies?

Just about anything!

Here are some reports from our students:

Tanya Buschau, advocate, Community Unemployed Help Centre

“Labour Studies provided me with both the ability to understand the problems that workers face as well as the tools needed to advance positive social change.”

Greg MacPherson, singer-songwriter

“Interesting, practical and inspiring, these courses will challenge you to develop informed and critical perspectives on fundamental aspects of contemporary life. My degree in Labour Studies has proven to be an invaluable resource both for my work and for the way I see the world."

Union Researcher

Donna MacDonald, who completed the Advanced Major program in Labour and Workplace Studies last year, has recently taken a job as Researcher at the Manitoba Nurses' Union. Donna reports,
"I am loving my job! I now get paid to do what I did in university: read, write and offer my opinion!! It's truly EXCITING!!! I LOVE MY JOB!!!"

Labour Arbitration

Keely Richmond, Masters' Candidate, U of M.  

"What can a Labour and Workplace Studies (LWS) degree do for you? That is what I asked myself when I was in my second year of Arts. I was not sure exactly what the answer was. I knew it would be an excellent prelude to a management or law degree. I knew it would be a compliment to a BA in sociology or economics. I suppose it still is all of those things. What I didn't realize was that a LWS degree in itself was all I needed to obtain a great career.

I started the program more out of luck than purpose. I had enrolled in the introductory course, Labour Problems and Institutions (153.127) while I was fulfilling the minimum entry requirements for the faculty of management. I thought it would be a good start to a career in management or law. I soon realized that LWS was what I was interested in and that a degree in management or law would in fact compliment a LWS degree. I was able to take a spectrum of courses that ranged from the theoretical to the more pragmatic and practical."

So what did the LWS degree do for me? Well, I developed a real interest in the field of arbitration and labour law after completing Labour Law, 153.301, Employment Legislation, 153.313 and Occupational Health and Safety Law, 153.307. They had been taught by well known local consultants, lawyers, and arbitrators of whom are still practicing and have great insight and experience in the field. I completed my Labour and Workplace Studies Field Placement (153.451 and 153.452) at the Workers' Organizing Resource Center, a pilot project sponsored by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), where I focused my research on Labour legislation.

With my work experience and course work completed I sent my resume to the Manitoba Labour Board and Employment Standards Branch. I was offered summer positions at both workplaces! I accepted the position from Employment Standards who then continued my contract throughout the school year. Once I received my BA I was offered a summer position at the Manitoba Government and General Employee's Union where I was able to meet Paul Teskey, a prominent labour lawyer and arbitrator who has since hired me as a research assistant.

As you can see I have been offered four positions since the commencement and completion of my LWS degree. The program has allowed me the flexibility to work in several different organizations ranging from government to private sector. The LWS program offers an enormous range of subject area that prepares you for a number of fields and occupations. The only thing you have to do is choose what you want to do. The opportunities are there; that's what I have experienced."

Human Rights

David Popke: Field Placement at Manitoba Human Rights Commission

"My name is David Popke, and I am in my final year of the Labour and Workplace Studies 4 year Advanced program. As part of the requirements students participate in a field placement that is intended to give graduating students real world experience. We meet weekly with Julie Guard to discuss our placements and the related research work.

Since September I have spent one day per week at the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. The Commission hears and investigates complaints of discrimination and harassment. The Commission is also responsible for educating Manitobans about human rights. A current focus of the Commission's is the education of employers. Complaints that arise from employment situations account for nearly two thirds of all complaints made. As part of my placement, I am studying the effectiveness of the Commission's educational seminars for employers.

While human rights are often an accepted notion in our advanced society, acceptance and full understanding remain distant in the world of work. The inherent power imbalance in employment situations requires that employees know their rights and employers know their responsibilities. As part of my evaluation of the Commission's educational seminars, I am conducting a survey of all employers, human resource managers, employees, and individuals who have attended a seminar in the past year to see whether or not their exposure to human rights education has altered their ways of doing things. Specifically, I am looking at the extent to which employers are pro actively addressing human rights issues in their workplaces.

This research study allows me to use many of the skills and concepts I have learned in the Labour and Workplace Studies Program. In addition, I am gaining valuable work experience and future job contacts. The Manitoba Human Rights Commission has a vested interest in learning the long-term effectiveness of their educational programs and has provided my with valuable resources and assistance that will enable me to create a truly valuable piece of research."

Sustainable Development

Lynne Fernandes: Field Placement at the International Institute for Sustainable Development

"I am doing my field placement with the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The Institute is a NGO with a mandate to promote the three areas of sustainable development: environmental, economic and societal. I am working with Stephan Barg who is Associate and Senior Program Advisor, preparing a report on trends in corporate environmental reporting in Canada. Once my report is completed, Stephan will write a paper for publication and I will receive credit as co-author.

As an economics major with a particular interest in sustainable development, the opportunity to work with the Institute has been very rewarding. I have been able to see how the theory I learned in class is applied to real life situations. I have also been able to add to what I learned; I did not know the specifics of environmental reporting, but since preparing a literature review on the topic, I now have a solid understanding of the topic. I also have had to learn how to use Excel and analyse ten year's worth of data on environmental reporting, so I was able to blend the theoretical aspects of the literature review with hard data. This is the first time I have had to work with both qualitative and quantitative data in one project and I think it has filled an important gap in my education."