The goodness of each and every one of us has been on display this year, and I am so very grateful for how you have all contributed to bettering the world in which we live. We know that in the new year we will face more challenges to our core values and in our work. Governments will, no doubt, ring the austerity bell once again. We have faced this before. We will remain vigilant and push back against the ideas that weaken our communities. Together in solidarity, we will continue to work for the common good, while opposing corporate greed and those who wish to trample on our human rights at home and around the world. Our solidarity knows no borders.
by Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (21 Dec. 2020) — The words thank you don’t seem to be enough after the year we've had, but as this year draws to a close, I want to say it one more time.
Thank you — to the members of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). Thank you for hard work, for your energy, and your commitment. We’ve been through some rough years before, but I don’t think we’ve seen anything like 2020! Exhausting, anxiety-riddled, and game changing for so many of us. We’ve witnessed great loss: of friends and family to this terrible disease, of livelihoods and economic stability, of hopes and dreams of what this year could have been.
But at the same time, this last year has been filled with heartwarming, caring and rewarding moments, and filled with solidarity. Despite the isolation that many of us felt at the beginning of the pandemic, we saw the overwhelming support for front-line workers as the days and weeks wore on.
Thank you to those who put their lives on the line every day. People are seeing many workers in a new light. Those people frequently obscured by the limelight that is afforded to higher-profile professions have been brought out into the open to be applauded and appreciated for their valuable contributions to keeping society healthy and safe. Those forgotten, underpaid, and undervalued workers who continuously put themselves in the way of risk and danger, found themselves front-page news. It’s nothing new to us — but it sure has been a wake-up call for the rest of society!
We know workers are the backbone of our economy, contributors to our communities, and saviours to those in need. COVID-19 unmasked the cracks in our systems — such as in health and social services — that left vulnerable people even more exposed to danger.
But COVID has done something else: shown people what working together for the public good really means. Front-line workers, in various ways, are caring for the public. People are reaching out to their neighbours to make sure they have what they need. Workers are putting their hard-earned wages into the community by supporting local businesses to help them survive this economic crisis. People are helping out those who have lost their jobs and are struggling.
The goodness of each and every one of us has been on display this year, and I am so very grateful for how you have all contributed to bettering the world in which we live. To be sure, times have not always been easy. Across the country, we are witnessing attacks on labour and on public services like never before.
Just when people need support and security more than ever, Conservative governments are taking advantage of the confusion and chaos to roll back wages, to cut valuable services, and to take away workers’ rights. Some governments have taken a page out of the American right-to-work playbook and have passed legislation to silence us from opposing their actions.
I could go on about the important work our union has been doing over this year, but I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge how this pandemic has highlighted the important role that many other workers have played. Thank you to those who ensured people could get groceries or have food delivered. To those who made sure buildings were clean and safe. To those who made sure goods got to where they were needed to keep shelves stocked. And to those who, we know, went to work every day, many of you knowing that you did not have a choice — unfortunately, many still don’t: it’s either show up or don’t get paid.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
In this crisis, we continue to recognize our privilege and are determined to ensure equality and respect are offered to everyone.
We know that we will face more challenges to our core values and in our work. Governments will, no doubt, ring the austerity bell once again. We have faced this before. We will remain vigilant and push back against the ideas that weaken our communities. Together in solidarity, we will continue to work for the common good, while opposing corporate greed and those who wish to trample on our human rights at home and around the world. Our solidarity knows no borders.
While there may be much uncertainty about the days ahead, the one thing I know for certain is that the strength of our union will see us through.
We welcome 2021 with hope, courage and community.
Be safe. Be healthy.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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