Early March 2022, unionized teachers at AEON language schools took a shot in the dark and organized an ambitious, nation-wide mailing campaign to reach out to coworkers across Japan. Since the project’s start, General Union has received a great positive response from teachers that shows that AEON workers are hungry for better working conditions.
Planning for the action started late in December 2021. General Union officers spent many hours, often after their teaching day-jobs wrapped up, to collect the addresses of every AEON brick and mortar location in Japan. From there, over 400 AEON-specific flyers were drawn up, printed, and mailed out in individually addressed envelopes from General Union HQ in Osaka.
The premise of the outreach was simple – teachers were invited to a no-strings-attached videocall in April, so workers who normally do not have a safe venue for discussing their working conditions would have that. Attendees would also receive advice from union officers about how to pursue their goals.
There was no guarantee of success, as something like this had only been attempted two times before in the history of General Union – once with success, and once without success.
This time, it is building up to be a big success. Currently, dozens of AEON employees are committed to coming in for the videocall, and various online platforms have already been established for these workers to discuss work with each other. For teachers who have felt isolated, stifled, and frustrated, especially since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, direct contact with like-minded people has come as a relief.
Almost immediately after the letters went out, we received emails and other messages from various people – union members and non-members! – that our action created a buzz online. For example, it prompted some discussion on Reddit (link HERE).
At the same time, we received messages from AEON teachers concerned that staff at their schools may withhold mail addressed to them. This is understandable, and General Union is keeping a close eye on events related to those concerns.
In the meantime, General Union sent an official inquiry to AEON-Amity regarding their mail policies and any orders they have given about our mail. According to AEON, they have not ordered any employees to withhold or destroy mail addressed to their teachers and they never will – even if that mail is from a labor union. AEON understands that your right to join a labor union is sacrosanct and we hope that we can have a cooperative and fruitful relationship with them once negotiations get underway.
If you feel that your or your coworkers mail from the union is ever being stopped, let us know immediately. We take AEON’s commitment to investigate such reports seriously and will communicate with AEON regarding them in the spirit of mutual respect.