"Ask why the government wants to break unions and there is a simple answer. Unions are groups of organized workers. They pose a threat to a government that is paranoid." - Joe Spence, Ottawa Citizen.
Ottawa (03 Oct. 2012) - A letter, written by Joe Spence, a retired member of the Ottawa Newspaper Guild (formerly CJOH-TV unit) and CUPE was published recently in the Ottawa Citizen. In it, Spence details why unions matter.
Read his letter in full below:
"Government worker layoffs and fear of two-tier job ratings - just a couple of headline stories we've been reading about recently. These are becoming scary times for many Canadians - 47 per cent of workers are reportedly living on the edge financially. Now, fears of a burst in the housing bubble will face many people.
Many Canadians have become anti-union and side with the government in these matters - that may well prove to be a serious mistake. Ask why the government wants to break unions and there is a simple answer. Unions are groups of organized workers. They pose a threat to a government that is paranoid. Proposed opting out is merely a first step in a series of moves that will weaken unions and put all workers under the thumb of government - and who knows where that will lead, but it will not be a good place.
Many Canadians don't care if the unions are in decline, with fewer and fewer members as the years go by. The problem with that is most of today's workers are under 60. They don't know what it was like back in the 1930s, '40s and '50s when workers were poorly paid and treated shabbily by employers, including the federal and provincial governments. Now the government is laying off thousands and threatening others with possibility of layoff. The workplace is toxic. But management likes that. Divide and conquer. That's an old, old strategy and it used to work. But that is why unions are now so important.
Wake up, young people. You need unions to protect you, possibly against your own governments. I am an 81-year old who has lived and worked in both eras - with and without a union. Believe me, you are better off with a strong union that will fight for you. Otherwise you may find yourself on your own.
And that often ain't pretty."
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