Here we go! C.A.W. Local 333 is having it’s 2011 General Election and I am now officially on the ballot for the position of President. I have a great many issues I want to see the union take on strongly, and I know the direction my experience represents is quite different from what my running mates offer, so the members are going to have a real choice this election. That’s always a good thing, so I want to start my campaign by wishing my running mates good luck. Whoever wins the Presidency is going to have their work cut out for them, no doubt about that, but I know we are all committed to making the next three years good ones for the members of local 333.
As for the issues, I will expand on my views for our future, and my goals within the union more deeply in the coming days. For now I will simply say this …
The recent anti-union legislation in Wisconsin has shown us the direction our continent is heading. Unions are no longer lauded as the saviours of the middle class, they are being painted roughly as its destroyer. Union membership is down to it’s lowest level in 70 years in the U.S., and I see no reason to believe it is any different here in Canada. When unions began, the government sent the military to protect the workers from the companies. Today it is the government who is harming us the most. Being legislated back to work is not negotiation, it is the removal of the personal freedoms the men and women in Canada’s military fought and died for in so many wars. I believe we are giving up those rights too easily, and it must change. Now. So I believe;
Any member who would presume to lead our local must understand that in this environment of open government hostility, they must be willing to fight for our rights as they did in the 70’s, which means they must be prepared to go to jail for their beliefs. Maternity leave as it exists in Canada today was won by a Postal Union President who was sent to jail for standing up to the government, and today we take what he won for granted. Beliefs have no value if they are abandoned for convenience. This leads me to my second point.
What happened to the Ambulance workers in B.C. during their recent job action was a tragedy. They stood utterly alone, trying to defend an easily defensible position, but because they had been legislated back to work they were unable to leverage their unions strength to obtain a fair and equitable outcome. Today they work in appalling conditions, and British Columbians have a poorer Ambulance service for it. This story is repeated in B.C. more often than I care to think, and there is a simple solution. The Europeans have known of it for years, and depending on which country you chose they have some of the most progressive working environments in the industrialized world.
“Unions” should be spelled without the “s”. I’ll explain.
All unions have a vested interest in the welfare and health of all other unions. A city with a hundred small unions is a city with an easily subjugated workforce. On the other hand, if those same unions work together, supporting each other when they are under direct attack, they gain a power not easily put down. This is why Victoria, with probably the highest cost of living in the country, has some of the lowest wages as well. Our unions have been under direct attack for a long time now, and until they work together they will continue to lose ground to lies and legislation. Therefore, any member who wants to lead local 333 must understand standing alone has failed us, and will almost certainly continue to do so. Only through our active, open and disruptive support of other unions can we hope to achieve our own goals. Solidarity is not a word meant only to inspire a vote, it is a value that must be practised regardless of the limitations imposed on us. When our Ambulance workers failed, we failed. That failure is not over yet. We must work to make sure we are worthy of the support of others, by being the first to support them.
I look forward to meeting you all on the road and in the yard, work safely and drive safely, and may this campaign be honest and productive for everyone.