At the end of a long busy summer; time spent helping patrons find new authors, reconnect with their library, helping summer visitors with their computer use and all the related challenges, the thrill and hard work of the summer reading club, we were all more than ready for the Labour Day long weekend.
On that weekend, as we headed out camping, visiting with friends and family or firing up the barbeque, how many of us spent a moment or two reflecting on what Labour Day was all about?
A very good friend of mine from St. Johns passed away in July. Susan was someone I admired greatly for her courage, her hard work and dedication to the Labour Movement and in particular her commitment to the women’s movement. As a lifelong advocate for women’s issues, for fairness and equity, Susan taught me that we each have a role to play in this world. Rose, she would say, when you believe in something you have to go to the wall for it! It took me awhile to understand what that meant. She taught me that we all share a responsibility to make our workplaces, our communities, our country and our world a better place. On her fridge are the words “Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet”. So on this Labour Day I remembered my friend’s words, her kindness and support. I remembered that Labour Day was established to recognize the contributions that ordinary working people have made to our way of life and I celebrated Labour Day even though I did not have a long weekend!
I am occasionally asked by people, what is the point of belonging to a Union? Or what does the Union ever do for me? One has only to spend a bit of time reading about the Labour History of our country and others to get the answers. Unions are a vital part of our social fabric and economic future. Our past National President Paul Moist often said “Unions are the guardians of humanity”. For me, the most important contribution of unions has to do with basic human dignity. It is also about safe working conditions and compensation for injury, it is about the right to fair wages, the right to refuse unsafe work, the right to be treated fairly and without discrimination. Let us also not forget our retirement benefits, health benefits, overtime pay, sick days and the right to fair representation.
On this Labour Day I celebrate everything that Unions have done and still do for working people in my community, my country and the world. I also wish to say thank you to all the volunteers of CUPE 1123 who come together to help improve the lives of everyone in their workplaces, in doing so they join the thousands of other union members who have helped raise living and working standards for all working men and women.