Three new winners in Why Unions Matter contest | National Union of Public and General Employees

Three new winners in Why Unions Matter contest

Ottawa (02 Oct. 2014) — A heartfelt poem, an eye-opening essay, and a fantastically clever music video: three very different entries are the latest winners in NUPGE’s Why Unions Matter contest.

New winners touch on how unions bring stability, security and nourishment to their lives

The poem, called The Union Matters, comes to us from British Columbia’s Sandra Mountain. A single mother working as a facilitator for kids with disabilities at Douglas College in Burnaby, B.C., Mountain is a member of the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) and knew that she wanted to put pen to paper as soon as she heard about our contest.

“Because a woman's work has value and power / The union matters and equates by the hour,” Mountain writes. “Because this single mom needs a job that's secure / The union matters and job stability they ensure.”

But what about all those Canadians, like Mountain, who don’t enjoy the security and stability of unionized work? In her winning entry called Unions = Job Security = Food Security, Registered Dietitian Melissa Baker picks up the story.

“I completed the Welfare Food Challenge and lived on $26 worth of groceries for one week,” writes Baker. Twenty six dollars is the amount social assistance recipients get every week for food. “It was an extremely challenging week with little joy and a huge amount of stress. I couldn’t share meals with friends as I had nothing to offer—I felt so isolated. I even stopped exercising to conserve calories.”

As Baker makes clear in her short essay, unions help people nourish both body and soul. “Being a union member creates a sense of belonging and worth,” she writes, “and ultimately decreases the food insecurity that so negatively affects hundreds of thousands of Canadians.”

Mountain and Baker remind us how powerful can be the pen in the hands of a passionate individual.

Video shows how collective action can send a message

The most recent Why Unions Matter contest winner, on the other hand, shows us what can happen when a group of progressives pool their creativity and labour.

Union Style is as fun and informative as it is infectious. It’s a three-and-a-half minute music video to the tune of the massive music hit "Gangnam Style". Ottawa's Corinne Baumgarten rounded up a small army of brothers and sisters (along with mothers and daughters) to shoot the video at a variety of locations around Canada’s capital.

It was truly a labour of love, and it shows: smart, cheeky, and skilled. It might be the first time anybody has dropped a rhyme for “collective bargaining.” To find out what it rhymes with, check the video here.


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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