Labour Day, Politics, and the Future of our Local Union
This is always an important time of year. Many of us recently celebrated Labour Day, a holiday that has its origins in the union movement.
In Canada, it dates back to the 1800`s when the average worker put in between 14 and 16 hours a day, seven days a week, under harsh conditions.
For years, unhappy workers rallied together through many protests. Some gatherings were peaceful while others turned violent. Finally, through these protests, strikes, decisive bargaining, and pressure from workers and activists, the government declared Labour Day a national statutory holiday in 1894.
I hope that you had a great Labour Day. I hope you were able to spend time with family and friends and reflect upon all the good things that have been achieved throughout the year. We have tough challenges ahead.
As we inch closer toward the next Federal election in 2015, and face constant threat of a new Provincial election almost every spring and fall, we continue to see attacks on Labour Unions, not only in Ontario from Conservative Boss Tim Hudak, but all across Canada as well. The same attacks are happening to our neighbors south of the border, where conservative groups are on the move to take away working people`s rights and make working conditions much worse.
The ever looming Bill C-377, the union transparency bill that would require labour unions such as ours to provide disclosure of financial information about individuals and companies, was deemed so unconstitutional that it was voted down in a Conservative dominated Senate, and sent back to the House of Commons for reconsideration. Harper and his Conservatives are telling us that we should be more transparent, when in fact Labour Unions couldn`t be more transparent than they are already. We know where we stand, do they?
It`s certainly a tough road ahead, but we must stay strong, and united. It is our job to do the very best that we can to educate everyone on the importance of supporting Unionized workplaces, what it means to be a Unionized worker, and the positive impact that that can have on one`s quality of life.
It is imperative that in the near future, workers must get out and vote to form pro-worker majority governments. We need to elect people who are not afraid to stand up to big corporations, which make it their day-to-day business to stomp on workers` rights.
Again, as we look forward to a fast approaching 2014, let us organize and strengthen our Labour Movement even more. We must overcome the challenges ahead and stay strong, proud and united, as any family and Union should be.
President, Local 175 UFCW Canada