Obama inspires struggle for equity

The inauguration of Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States represents a major step forward and hope for the future.

Toronto (January 20, 2009) – This was the message of Smokey Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) to members of his union and NUPGE’s largest component.

“Obama’s words from the base of Abraham Lincoln’s monument can be adapted for our own union, as well”, noted Thomas.

“…if we could just recognize ourselves and bring everybody together…..Latino, Asian and Native American, black and white, gay and straight, disabled and not – then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearned for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process....”

Thomas’s message went on to say, “OPSEU has always been at the forefront of equity. We were one of the first unions to institute an elected Provincial Human Rights Committee. And our Workers of Colour caucus, along with our other equity groups, continues to provide leadership and support on the tough issues facing our members of racialized communities.”

“Our own Fred Upshaw was the first black to be elected president of a major trade union in Canada Even today, Fred is still active in our Retired Members’ Division executive.”

“This week, we celebrate Obama’s accomplishment, and then pledge as a union to continue to lead the fight for human rights and a better world for all working people.”

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