Why Unions Matter contest keeps bringing in winners: PEI's Cathy MacKinnon

Third winner chosen in Why Unions Matter contest. Send your entry to whyunionsmatter@nupge.ca.

PEIUPSE President Debbie Bovyer presents Cathy MacKinnon her award in the Why Unions Matter contest.

Ottawa (13 Jan. 2014) – When Cathy MacKinnon got a job at one of the golf courses run by the PEI government in the early 80s, she knew that she’d become a member of the government employees’ union - the PEI Union of Public Sector Employees (PEIUPSE/NUPGE) - but she didn’t know much more about the union than that. But then, she had one of the worst days of her life: she had a miscarriage at work.

Contest winner found support in her union during a difficult time

Her supervisor drove her to the hospital, but the employer’s support ended there. “They wouldn’t even grant me sick leave,” recalls MacKinnon, who is still an UPSE member as a part-time LPN at the hospital in Montague and a staffer at UPSE’s office in Charlottetown. “I was off for three days and they refused to pay.”

She called on her union to help and although she wasn't eligible for sick time, the union discovered her employer had been withholding other benefits she was entitled to including bereavement leave for the death of both her grandparents and her uncle.

First encounter has led to years of opportunities and activism

She’s been an active member since then — even serving a term as vice-president before accepting a staff position — and has eagerly taken any opportunity to sing labour’s praises. When she heard about the National Union of Public and General Employees Union's (NUPGE) Why Unions Matter contest, she knew she had to enter and decided to write a new take on an old classic: The Night Before Christmas.

“You'll soon feel much better about facing the day, and we'll educate you, about your rights on the way,” goes part of her labour-friendly version. “Our job won't be easy, we know it will be a battle, but they have to learn you are people - not cattle.”

MacKinnon’s entry was chosen as the contest’s winning entry for November and she’ll soon receive a $1,000 prize for her efforts.

Why Unions Matter contest continues

For anybody else who has a creative way of explaining Why Unions Matter — be it a poem, song, video, photograph, or essay — the contest continues. A $1,000 prize will be given out for the best entry each month. 

Why Unions Matter

There once was a worker named Bob, whose employer was kind of a knob, He worked very hard with little reward because it was part of the job.

Along came a union, all shiny and bright, and they said to Bob, together we'll fight,

Better wages and benefits you soon will be making, and that employer of yours,

Over the coals we'll be raking.

We'll teach him the value of safe working places, and holiday pay - oh we'll cover the bases,

You'll soon feel much better about facing the day, and we'll educate you, about your rights on the way.

Our job won't be easy, we know it will be a battle, but they have to learn you are people - not cattle. 

Our goal is quite simple and one you deserve - to see you treated with dignity,

Your labour rights we'll preserve.

And when we are finished, at the end of the day, it will be your turn to keep it that way.

Abide by your contract, don't make side deals, look out for each other - you'll like how that feels.

Your union should give you a sense of comfort and pride, with your Brothers and Sisters you'll stand side by side,

Together forever through thick and through thin, united we stand.

In Solidarity we will win.

More information: 

 First Why Unions Matter contest winner - Ezra Barrett!

Second winner in Why Unions Matter contest - Frank O'Neill!

Why Unions Matter contest rules 


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE


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