Friday, August 31, 2012

My open Labour Day letter

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

As we take a well-deserved holiday weekend and enjoy our Labour Day, we should also remember to celebrate the many fruits of our labour.

Both Canada and the US were built by working class people.  It wasn't the CEOs.  It wasn't the politicians.  It sure wasn't the investors or the venture capitalists.  It was everyday working class men and women.

To the upper crust, the first Monday of September is just another day off.  But, we, in the union movement, pay particular notice on Labour Day to acknowledge the essential and the often thankless work of our sisters and brothers.

We honor the faceless millions who live from paycheck-to-paycheck.  We pay tribute to those who juggle family budgets and priorities to make ends meet - who, through it all, bring their best efforts to their individual jobs.  Those who have endured those years of daily toil and endless worry will never forget the experience.  Those who never lived it, will never understand it.

As union people, we value the hard work of others, and we honor them on their special day.  On the first Monday in September, we take time to pay our special moments of grateful for the contributions of the working class.

Whether they're technologists or teachers, soldiers or scholars, labourers or lab assistants; we unionists, bless them for their work.  We demand they are paid a fair and decent wage, and that they are provided a safe and healthy workplace.

Our colleagues and co-workers bring progress and profitability to their employers, and we insist that they receive responsible benefits.

Our fellow workers give tirelessly of themselves, and we will fight with every ounce of energy to protect their retirement packages and privileges.

Most importantly, we, in the union movement, respect all workers, and we insist that every woman and man be treated equally and fairly without facing harrassment or discrimination.

We believe employer-provided training and education should be focused on continuous progress and improvement, and should not simply be a defense against potential job loss.

We believe workers should enjoy the freedom to engage in collective bargaining. They should be free to organize without employer’s threats or intimidation.  And we believe unions should be legally recognized through a simple majority of those workers who willingly sign authorization cards.

The labour of American and Canadian workers, be they for-profit mployees or public servants, are essential to building our communities, our cities, and our nations.   The labours of working class people are essential to the progress of business enterprises and government institutions alike.  We know well that employers cannot survive without the dedicated efforts of their workforces.  We understand the differences between the cause and the effect of workers’ efforts and employers’ successes, and we will never allow them to become interchanged or confused.

These are among the ideals and principles, which we in the union movement stand for.

And these are among the reasons we honor workers on their special day.

Happy Labour Day!

Greg Junemann
IFPTE President