Unions matter to Canada because they built and are maintaining our middle class

Grandfather of the latest Why Unions Matter contest winner paid a heavy price for trying to start a union, but each generation since has benefited and prospered.

Ottawa (30 June 2016) — Like millions of other Canadians these days, Kathleen MacKillop has a good, stable job. It's the same story for many of her brothers and sisters, her mom and dad, her son, and a nephew. They all belong to unions, and so they can all enjoy a certain level of safety and security in their work lives.

But in her winning entry in NUPGE's Why Unions Matter contest, MacKillop makes it clear that it wasn't always thus.

"My mother explained that when she was four, her family had to leave Ontario as my grandfather and a few other men had been blacklisted for trying to start a union," she wrote in her essay Why Unions Matter to Canada. "She recalls a newspaper article with a picture of her father sitting in the back of a police wagon."

Fortunately for MacKillop's family, and for all Canadian families, her grandfather's sacrifice was not in vain. They fought for unions and slowly but surely, unions grew. And as unions grew and spread, so did economic equality, democratic participation, quality public services. In other words, unions helped the entire country prosper and thrive.

"So while I never knew my grandfather, I am more than grateful that he and others fought for unions — they've made a better life for me and my children and all Canadians."

New theme for next month

On August 1, many communities will be celebrating a civic holiday. So throughout July, we're asking for Why Unions Matter contest submissions that describe why unions matter to your community.

We’re looking forward to your responses! And here’s one tiny bit of advice: so far, the majority of the entries have been poems. We’ll continue to accept and consider poetry, but if you want your entry to stand out, think about crafting something other than a poem. 

Please email your entry to whyunionsmatter@nupge.ca (link sends email).

More information: 


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 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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