The hope for our best future lies in this broad solidarity. We are the ones who know how to get things done when we work together. We are the ones who have learned from the past, and are working for a better future for everyone. We are proud of our accomplishments — those that benefit our members and those that benefit everyone else, too. And we have much to be proud of. — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (30 August 2018) — For many, Labour Day, marks the end of the summer. An end to the days at the beach, playing in the park, and to long sunny days. Children prepare for school; workers return to their daily jobs; and parents enjoy moments of silence. Accurate by the calendar or not, September transitions us.
As part of a union, we mark this change with Labour Day parades and picnics, bringing workers and their families together. Often, we'll discuss the summer frivolities, and then move on to the more serious "state of affairs" of the world.
As workers in Canada, we continue to face difficult times. Concessions reach across bargaining tables, forcing workers onto the streets across our country. Provincial governments are clinging to austerity measures as they hand off public services to their private-investor friends. Massive corporations are blaming governments for raising the minimum wage for some of the poorest people trying to make a living. Our democracy is being threatened by egomaniacal politicians who believe edict is the best way forward.
At times, it feels like every deck is stacked against us. And sometimes, they are.
But, even still, we never shy away from the challenges before us.
We know that if it weren't for unions, there would be little pressure on our federal government to ensure that labour rights are protected in trade deals. If it weren't for a concerted effort by unions, increases in the Canada Pension Plan rates wouldn't have happened. And if it weren't for unions, we would not see legislation addressing domestic violence against women passed across Canada.
Whatever the roadblock, we persist.
We are organizing, despite the barriers thrown at us by governments and employers alike, in the workplace, in our unions, but also in our communities with our neighbours.
We are advocating for public services, for good jobs, for public ownership, and for better labour laws that protect workers and they people they serve.
We are showing leadership by creating and lobbying for public policy that serves the interests of us all. Standing up for what is clearly right for our children and the future.
We are building inclusivity by reflecting on our shortcomings, and committing to real change. We are reaching out to bridge the gaps in our memberships. We are including people who have been pushed to the sidelines and overlooked for too long. People of colour, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, LGBTQI2 people and workers who don't fit the binary gender notions, young people, non-union workers. Many of these people have never been asked to join us. We have opportunities to take to make our union stronger through diversity.
The hope for our best future lies in this broad solidarity. We are the ones who have learned from the past and are working for a better future for everyone. We know how to get things done when we work together. We are proud of our accomplishments — those that benefit our members and those that benefit everyone else, too. And we have much to be proud of.
So, this Labour Day let's move into this new season with the energy and positivity that will carry us through the tough times ahead. Let's honour each other, and those who have come before us, for our compassion, our intelligence and our belief that we have the power to make the world a better place — for all of us.
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