Labour Day 2007
Bargaining Committee Message
On April 15, 1872, the Toronto Trades Assembly held Canada’s first workers “demonstration”. At that time, unions were illegal in Canada, and many union leaders were imprisoned for organizing strikes to reduce the work day to 9 hours, and for other basic improvements to working conditions. This was the beginning of what we now know as Labour Day.
The Toronto demonstration and parade was noted in our capital city, Ottawa. A few months later, on September 3, 1872, several unions marched in a mile long parade, with an artillery band and city firefighters.
The parade passed by the residence of Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald. He joined in, and was taken in an open carriage to city hall, in a torch light procession. And there promised the crowd to eliminate the archaic, and unjust laws banning trade unions. By year’s end, the laws were gone, and Sir John A. kept his word.
Today, many of us take Labour Day for granted. I suppose this is only natural, as both union and non-union workers enjoy many privileges fought for, and won by union activists in the past. But we should take a few minutes at least, to reflect on the sacrifices made by many, that resulted in reasonable hours of work, health and safety, benefits, weekends, pensions, etc.
In a notable way, CUPE Local 391 is following in the footsteps of our forebearers, as we strike to gain significant improvements for ourselves. Many others are watching us, and our gains will be their gains. The library sector in particular has some catching up to do. Pay Equity, Benefits, and Vacations are below many non-library workforces. And as we are the largest library local union in B.C. we have to take a leadership role in fighting for these issues.
The CUPE 391 Bargaining Committee is doing a magnificent job of advocating on behalf of our membership. I am proud to Chair this Committee of such dedicated and talented people. We are doing everything in our power to get a Collective Agreement we can bring back for your approval. I believe the employer’s reluctance to bargain across the table, honorably, is coming to an end.
Public pressure is the only way that the city will abandon its negative approach to bargaining. A whole new user group is now coming on the scene. Soccer and Hockey parents and kids will be demanding access to facilities. School and university students will want their library services restored. After school swimming lessons, backed up building permits, piles of garbage etc.will demand action. The City of Vancouver blamed the unions for this strike, after initiating it, but this will no longer fool anyone.
The Bargaining Committee would like to thank all members of CUPE 391 for their courage and conviction during these tough times. Special thanks to our office staff, the strike office staff, and executive, CUPE National staff, the strike action committee, picket captains, cbc committee, our knitters for solidarity, and anyone doing anything for the cause.
On behalf of Doug Klohn, Marya Gadison, Alex Youngberg, Laura Safarian, Aliza Nevarie.
Ed Dickson VP Chair Bargaining Committee CUPE Local 391