Tim Hudak is a great example of the damage a good education can do. So is Stephen Harper. Both are products of university economics departments in the late 20th century. Each has a proud MA in the field. Like their American cognate -- Paul Ryan -- they've chosen to implement economic policy with no or little experience in the work world. Hudak worked briefly at a low level for Walmart; almost an internship. Since then -- all politics.
November 25-29 marked the 12th biennial Ontario Federation of Labour convention. It was marked by what many unions hope is a new spirit -- one that encompasses widespread social change. To that end, many delegates quickly noted that panels that normally would have been held in the evening were instead held during the day, with all 1,200 delegates present.
rabble.ca was at the convention. We've collected some of our favourite tweets here.
At the recent Convention of the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada, delegates heard Ed Broadbent speak on "Equality and the Importance of Unions," and we wanted to find out what their unions had meant to them. This column is the first of a series based on interviews at the convention.
Joyce Kerr and Mary Riddell are both retired hospital employees from the Greater Toronto area and members of the Service Employees International Union Retirees Committee. They both knew from personal experience the difference that having a union made in their lives.
As its name suggests, United Steelworkers (USW) once represented the legions of steel workers across North America. But as jobs in the steel industry moved to far flung corners of the world, USW began to change, integrating new job sectors into a union that now has over 800,000 members worldwide.
Ken Neumann is the Canadian national director of USW, representing over 200,000 Canadian workers. He's been a member of USW since the late seventies. Labour beat reporter H.G. Watson spoke to him about their potential merger with the Telecommunications Workers Union, and the challenges facing labour today. This is a condensed and edited version of their conversation.
The following is an open letter from over 60 climate justice organizations to the AFL-CIO.
'Ours is a shared struggle for a just transition toward a new economy'
Dear AFL-CIO President Trumka and our sisters and brothers in the labour movement:
There is a movement growing across the country and around the world -- a movement to fight climate change and build a sustainable future for the planet and its people. This movement will define the 21st Century in the same way that seven great social movements defined the best of the 20th Century: labour, civil rights, environment, LGBTQ equality, women's, migrant rights, and peace and freedom.
I am still catching my breath from one of the wildest weeks in my life: all the events that culminated in the founding convention last weekend in Toronto of Unifor (formed from the combination of the CAW and the CEP). The new union will represent over 300,000 members working in over 20 different defined economic sectors. It is not just a private sector union -- there are 35,000 or more members in various public sector capacities (including health care, transportation, and utilities). So it isn't quite right to call Unifor the "largest private sector union" in Canada (as some have done for shorthand). More precise would be to say that "Unifor represents more private sector workers than any other union." Or, "Unifor is the largest industrial union" if you use that
This speech was delivered on September 1, 2013 at the founding convention of Unifor, a new mega union created by the Canadian Autoworkers and the Canadian Energy and Paper Workers Union.
I'm so very happy and honoured to be able to share this historic day with you.
The energy in this room -- and the hope the founding of this new union has inspired across the country -- is contagious.
It feels like this could be the beginning of the fight back we have all been waiting for, the one that will chase Harper from power and restore the power of working people in Canada.
So welcome to the world Unifor.