Labour Day: WE COUNT!

Aug 30, 2019

For many, Labour Day marks the end of summer and, like the school bell signals back to routines and homework for kids, it’s also a good reminder of the important work we have to do this fall. Labour Day presents an opportunity to recommit ourselves to fighting for working people; advocating for those who do not have access to the platforms that we do; levelling the playing field so everyone has a shot at earning a fair wage, going to work, making it home safely at the end of every shift, providing a decent living for their families and, realizing the promise of a secure retirement on the horizon.

When candidates show up at your door this fall, I would encourage each and every one of you to share your story, educate politicians on your trade and, pride yourselves in conveying the incredible amount of training and hard work it took for you to get there. It’s no easy task and, more often than not, you work in dangerous, dirty and, less than desirable climatic conditions. Let them know that investments in the skilled trades matter because the skilled trades build our country and, if we want to continue sustaining safe, secure, reliable infrastructure then, prioritizing the skilled trades is absolutely essential! Remind them that every union job creates seven spinoff jobs in the community and that building trades workers across Canada contribute over $30 million annually to philanthropic causes, such as new schools and stocking them with books; ensuring underprivileged children have access to sustenance – the breakfast and lunch programs we fund feed thousands of children every day, which enables them to learn; access to music programs for disadvantaged children; new operating room suites with the latest life-saving technology; the installation of automated external defibrillators (AED) in numerous classrooms throughout Canada; medical research and, charities that run the gamut from finding cures for cancer to providing hospice to those who are sick and a place to stay for their loved ones. Every citizen in Canada benefits from the work that our hands do, the work (and, sometimes disease) that our bodies endure and, the unparalleled generosity that streams from our hearts. We are the backbone of our Nation – over 500,000 voices strong and, together with our family and friends, produce a multiplier of three – WE COUNT!

This Labour Day, I want you to remind yourselves how important you are – you’ve made this country what it is today. Without you, no one would be able to go to work, things wouldn’t function properly and, all the comforts we enjoy and take for granted would go away. As your Director, I ask that you lead with the undisputable fact that we are, first and foremost, the most skilled and safest trades professionals and, it was us – organized labour – who were the first to advocate for and implement respectful workplace policies; and, the first to fight for the inclusion of employment equity plans in project labour agreements and for under-represented groups to have a place at the table.

Although Labour Day got its start in the streets of Toronto, at a time when machines and automation were replacing workers, immigration was on the rise and workers found themselves unable to speak out against deplorable working conditions, low wages and long work weeks without fear of reprisal, its foundation has been expounded upon and principles interwoven into the fabric of every jurisdiction in Canada – proof to the importance of and achievements possible through solidarity.  We count – and, how we demonstrate that is by voting – electing candidates who will support the things that matter to us! Our united voice has the power to make things better and, a collective win for us is a win for all. Don’t waste it – VOTE!

In solidarity,

Arlene Dunn,

Director, Canada’s Building Trades Unions