This week in labour: Strike with Pride!

Photo: flickr/Nicholas Nico Valenton

It's Pride season! If there is a parade or march in your hometown this month, you'll probably see a few union floats and flags mixed in with all the rainbows.

In recent decades, the labour movement has become increasingly involved in defending the rights of gay, lesbian, queer, and trans workers.

This year, the Canadian Labour Congress has released a new guide to help unions and employers negotiate better language into their collective agreements to recognize, protect and include LGBTIQ workers. However, as Gary Kinsman reminds us, this is largely due  to the work of LGBTQ activists who pushed for change within their unions. This one's for them! 

  • It's important to remember that some historical wrongs have yet to be acknowledged or addressed: From the late 1950s until the 1990s, thousands of LGBTQ men and women in the Canadian public service and military were spied on, interrogated, and harassed by security agents, and hundreds of people lost their jobs.
  • It's probably also a good time to revisit this piece on how unions and union members can be better allies to their trans* siblings.
  • In New Brunswick, a coalition of labour and community groups are organizing against the proposed austerity budget, which would deal major blows to public services.
  • City of London inside workers enter week five of their strike. Their union, CUPE Local 101 condemns the city's use of replacement workers. Outstanding contract issues include wages, early retirement benefits for new employees, and expanded work hours.
  • In last week's labour roundup, we made note of the deplorable record discovered through the Ontario Ministry of Labour's inspection blitz. It turns out that the Ontario government employs many of the temp agencies which that investigation found to be in violation of the Employment Standards Act.
  • 28,000 grocery workers in the Greater Toronto Area may be on strike next week. Loblaws workers, members of UFCW Local 1000A, have voted to reject the tentative agreement put forth by the company and the union’s bargaining committee.
  • And on the West Coast, recycling workers in Kamloops, B.C. are on strike. Members of Steelworkers local 1-417 say that they currently live below the poverty line and are demanding a living wage.
  • In Nelson B.C., hospital laundry workers rallied to save the in-house service, which has been slated for privatization.
  • Thursday, June 25 marked the anniversary of the end of the Winnipeg General Strike. For six weeks in 1919, 30,000 workers including tradesmen, construction workers, policemen, and teachers, went on strike to demand decent working conditions and union recognition during a time of great social unrest and economic upheaval. You should go to the Canadian Museum of History and learn about it! Oh wait...you can't anymore, since the Museum of History removed its Winnipeg General Strike exhibit.

Ella Bedard is rabble.ca's labour intern and an associate editor at GUTS Canadian Feminist Magazine. She has written about labour issues for Dominion.ca and the Halifax Media Co-op and is the co-producer of the radio documentary The Amelie: Canadian Refugee Policy and the Story of the 1987 Boat People.

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