As labour fights multiply, so too will the victories

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

The ground shifted for the Canadian labour movement this week. Monday night 4,000 thousand Air Canada workers walked off the job, joining 50,000 CUPW workers already on rotating strikes. CAW and CUPW-two unions that have made breakthrough gains in past struggles-are blocking further stripping of their pension and benefit plans, and are refusing to agree to lower living standards for new workers.

Of course there have been other important confrontations over contract concessions in recent years, like the strikes against Vale Inco, the City of Windsor and the City of Toronto. But what is happening at Air Canada and Canada Post is different. For one thing, the disputes impact every part of the country. Second, both the CAW and CUPW bargaining units fall under federal jurisdiction and have forced Harper's Conservative government to openly reveal its contempt of workers' rights and collective bargaining.

But what is most important about the CAW and CUPW disputes is they demonstrate that union members are willing and able to take on a fight. Workers at US Steel in Hamilton, represented by USWA 1005, were locked out last November because they refused to agree to a new contract without a good pension plan. Many in and out of the labour movement saw their struggle, now in its eighth month, as a losing battle. Shamefully, it has fallen off the radar. But now two other powerful unions with militant histories are also taking a stand giving impetus to others to do the same.

The Conservative government will use its majority in Parliament to force Air Canada and postal workers back to work. No doubt the legislation will be brutally anti-worker and anti-union. But the strikes, short as they will likely be, have raised the bar for the rest of us. Unions should be about raising expectations and that is what CAW and CUPW have done. It will be much more difficult from now on for any union to give into employer concessions without a fight. As the fights multiply, so too will the victories

This story first appeared in Union Post.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.