Young Ontario singer wins Why Unions Matter contest

"Two is better than one, though one could be good too. Four or more just lessens the chore, and five pulls it all through,” sings Ben Cottrill, the winner of the Why Unions Matter contest for April 2014.

Ottawa (16 June 2014) — At 16, Ben Cottrill has never been in a union. But the winner of the Why Unions Matter contest knows that many voices can be much stronger than one.

Winner understands the need for collective action

“It was just a small thing, but we weren’t allowed to wear hats in our school,” says Cottrill, a high school student in Elmira, Ontario. “People would ask the principal to change the rule but it wasn’t until a group of us joined together and gathered names on a petition that he finally decided to get rid of that rule.”

It was a small, personal lesson that helped inspire Cottrill to write and perform a song called United and submit it to the Why Unions Matter contest.

“Two is better than one, though one could be good too / Four or more just lessens the chore, and five pulls it all through,” Cottrill sings.

Singer tries hand at protest song to win contest

Cottrill says that while most of the songs he writes and sings are more in the style of classic rock, he enjoyed trying his hand at something closer to a protest song.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Bob Dylan, and for me, the idea of unions just ties in with some of the social changes that happened in the 60s,” he says. “It’s the idea that support and encouragement comes from numbers. One person won’t accomplish as much as they can in groups.”

And while the 60s are now long past, Cottrill says he hopes to see more social change in his time.

“I can see how big companies are just towering down over all of us now,” he says. “In my town, there’s bigger stores that are overwhelming the smaller stores that are here and it’s sad to see. If we don’t join together, we don’t have much of a chance against these huge corporations.”

To hear more of Ben's music, check out his Facebook page:

Contest continues

Submissions are still be accepted for the Why Unions Matter contest. Original poems, songs, videos or pieces of writing can be submitted by email to Selections are made on a monthly basis. 


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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