open letter to the unions
Source: Ken Kuzminski
Published: September 12th 2008
Brothers and Sisters,
Over the course of the past 150 years the Canadian labour movement has won many significant battles, earning rights and privileges that many take for granted and others would have us believe are at odds with prosperity.
The hard work of union leaders and support of their members have won landmark concessions, such as 40-hour work weeks, pensions, pay equity, job security and safety. No longer are we relying on a canary to tell us things have gone askew.
More and more, these gains are being threatened, not through major legislation, but through slow and methodical erosion of legislations and industry deregulations. Corporate profits are increasingly focused on shareholder interests that are now at odds – literally out of balance – with the workers, craftsmen and women who provide the skills and labour that assure that very prosperity.
We all are working harder and longer to afford the basics. Housing costs have increased dramatically and inflation has outpaced wage parity. Institutions such as health and education are under constant attack by private interests and are less affordable then ever, less accessible to Canadian families. Job security is threatened by recent trade agreements such as the softwood lumber deal and the security prosperity partnership. Worker rights are threatened by lack of vision and planning. We have reached a time when agreements can be changed by the stroke of a pen, rather than through negotiations.
We must look at how the labour movement has won those battles and look at the battles we are fighting today. From the Winnipeg strike in 1919 to the issues of today, where multi-nationals, corporate takeovers and government collusion have created a battleground that dwarfs the rights of everyday Canadians. The lesson we have learned from the workers of the early 20th century is that there is strength in numbers.
The canary is singing. It’s time to stand together, to stand for each other, stand for our families, our livelihoods and our future. The beauty of democracy is in the power of the vote, not the pen. It’s critical that the power of the brotherhood and sisterhood be heard.
It’s time to stand strong – to insist your voice be heard in Parliament.
Yellowhead Federal Riding