The Canadian Labour Congress Convention happens only once every three years. It is a rare opportunity for the house of labour to find itself together under one roof.
The CLC Convention kicks off today in Montreal and this year may be one of the most memorable yet. Here are four reasons to keep your eye on the Montreal Convention Centre this week.
1. Defeating the Conservative agenda will be front and centre
Internally, it is reasonable to expect that labour will always have differences. But the movement as a whole will unify against Conservatives as quickly as Jason Kenney can write a tweet that gets him trouble.
This convention just happens to come the week after Ontario's NDP triggered an election. No unionist wants to see Tim Hudak get into office, despite the fact that he rescinded his position on right-to-work legislation.
Also, the national executive board elected at this convention will be in place during the federal election in 2015. Ensuring Harper doesn't cruise to another majority is going to be a key issue for any labour activist with a pulse. Defeating Harper will require the development of a strategy to educate people on the issues, get them out to the voting booths, and to counter Conservative voter suppression techniques.
2. Young people will take centre stage
The plight of young people has become a key issue for the labour movement and many unions are addressing this issue internally, recognizing the fact that they need to engage the Girls generation if they want to stop the decline in union density.
It is a work in progress. Unifor has pushed their community chapters as an option for precarious and young workers and ended their founding convention with a free concert featuring the band Stars. And CUPE has been at the forefront of news over the past year when it comes to young workers -- starting with a young candidate who ran against Paul Moist at their national convention, and generating much discussion.
So it should not be a surprise if the younger crowd ensures they're part of the agenda by stepping up to the mic and through their votes for the next president.
3. A tough race for the presidency
An open letter from current CLC Executive Vice-President Marie Clarke Walker alleging abuse is unprecedented and noteworthy. It will be interesting to see what impact this has on the election, which this week.
4. A new direction for the labour movement
The one thing all three of the presidential candidates agree on is this: the 2014 CLC Convention comes at a watershed moment for the labour movement.
Union density is declining. The public image of unions is being warped by the corporate and conservative agenda.
The next president must be ready to take on these challenges, both internally and in the broader community.
Photo: flickr/dominique cappronnier
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