Today is one of the few days of the year politicians and business lobbyists won’t kick unions around. Well, I’m sure a few will but I’m not going out of my way to find their miserable, backwards opinions. Today’s a good time to remember why the labour movement is important and to acknowledge that it’s constantly under attack. Just look at Saskatchewan: we have a provincial government run by a premier who boldly stated that “going to war with unions” would be an accurate description of his labour policy. It has been: The Saskatchewan Party passed several anti-union bills in its first term. Sadly, the fact that they’ve done so with public support really shows that people are clueless about what unions do for them.
Even if you’re not in a union you probably benefit from them. Unions, especially in the public sector, put upward pressure on salaries by forcing private firms to compete harder for workers. Unions are also one of the very few forces able to organize against the whole tax-cut era we’ve had foisted on us by politicians looking out for their rich business buddies. It’s unions sticking up for things like social programs and public investment — which, obviously, is a big reason they’re always being pummeled.
Unions do a hell of a lot better job looking out for your interests than organizations like the Canadian Taxpayer’s Institute and Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Unless you’re a multi-millionaire. You know, I’m guessing you aren’t.
You can read a good, short piece about some of the good things unions do here, though it’s got an American focus. And here’s today’s Canadian labour news, about the coming battle against massive public sector job cuts. If you really want to melt your eyeballs on a computer screen — and who doesn’t! — the current prairie dog has a great, zillion-word feature here. Of course you could leave the house, enjoy the beautiful weather and pick up a hard copy: I’m sure there are still some kicking around in our oft-tagged street boxes and at Safeways, 7-11s and other places.
So that’s that! Hooray for unions — we’d be screwed without ’em. And a happy Labour Day to everyone. Feel free to share your organized labour stories and remarks in the comments below.