President's Commentary: Labour Day 2013 - Unions matter more than ever before | National Union of Public and General Employees

President's Commentary: Labour Day 2013 - Unions matter more than ever before

NUPGE is launching a monthly contest for the best video, poem or song submission about “Why Unions Matter” – to you, your family, community and country.

Ottawa (30 Aug. 2013) - As we enter the Labour Day weekend, we are likely to hear from several media pundits about the relevance and value of unions in society today. This isn't a surprise, such statements have been around for well over a century. Back in 1886, the predecessor to the Globe and Mail, The Daily Globe, published an editorial with a headline that read “Unions were good at one time, but haven't they outlived their usefulness?”

Any questioning about the relevance of unions today, however, is based on the same old tired ideology which has the habit of consistently ignoring truth and knowledge. This thinking is promoted through a propaganda war being led by powerful forces – the corporate elite and the super wealthy which spend billions on an extremely coordinated campaign to discredit unions and the important role they play in society.

Unions act as counterweights to corporate power and greed

The reality is that unions matter more today than ever before, not just for union members but for everyone. They are really the only effective and democratic counterweight left to the growing corporate power and excessive greed that has resulted in unprecedented levels of income inequality in Canada today.

Growing income inequality is the biggest challenge facing Canada today. It has an adverse impact on all aspects of society, especially our economy. If Canada is to reverse this dangerous trend, we need to increasingly rely on unions and the important role they play in promoting and creating fairness.

That's what unions are about: workplace fairness; economic fairness; opportunity fairness; political fairness; and democratic fairness. Unions promote fairness, not just for their members, but for all Canadians.

Evidence shows unions are critical factor in ensuring economic and social well-being of all Canadians

As trade unionists, we have always known this to be true. But, as highlighted in Unions Matter, a major research paper prepared for the international conference sponsored by the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights and held this past March, there is a growing body of evidence which clearly shows that unions make a major contribution to achieving fairness.

Relying on science-based research from around the world, Unions Matter makes the critical connection between reducing income inequality, strong labour laws and high rates of unionization. Unions have a strong demonstrative impact on a nation's ability to achieve greater income equality, social justice and enhance democracy through civic participation. Unions are a critical factor in ensuring the economic and social well-being of all Canadians.

Tell us Why Unions Matter to you

Friends, knowledge and truth are on our side. We want to take that knowledge and truth and begin a conversation with our co-workers, our families, our neighbours, and our community about the important role unions play in making Canada a fair and just society.

To help start that conversation, I'm pleased to announce that beginning in September, the National Union will launch a monthly contest for the best video, poem or song submission about Why Unions Matter – to you, your family, your community and country. We will be awarding a monthly prize of $1,000 for the best submission. This contest is open to the public. Find out more about the contest here.

There are important, moving stories out there to share and we want to help do that.

I encourage you, your family members and your co-workers to take part in NUPGE's Why Unions Matter contest. 

Best wishes for a happy and relaxing Labour Day weekend.

In solidarity,

James Clancy
National President  

More information:

NUPGE Why Unions Matter contest rules


James Clancy is the National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), 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