Acting President’s Statement and events on Labour Day 2020

September 4, 2020 - Canada is changing rapidly, with automation drastically altering the country’s economy and workforce. Low wages and unsafe working conditions seem to be the norm. Workers feel they cannot compete, and they fear that they can easily be replaced if they complain. 

“These statements describe the context of what was generally considered Canada’s first Labour Day event in 1872. I find it unsettling that they still apply to what many workers currently experience. At the time, unions were still illegal in Canada, and strike leaders were arrested for conspiracy to combine, which essentially was “standing up to the man”. Yet, despite this awful situation, pioneering labour activists won so many of the working rights that we enjoy today. 

Things then were not all that different than what they are today. While a lot of social progress has been made, businesses have never stopped prioritizing their bottom line over the lives and wellbeing of their workers, spending millions of dollars annually to bust unions and organizing attempts. The working-class struggle is still on at full strength. The difficulties that we experience in 2020 were also being experienced in 1872 yet, 148 years ago, these workers’ solidarity changed history. As we know, history tends to repeat itself and I believe we’re at a time when workers are left with no choice but to change the course of history once again. It has only been in this generation that the word describing the rich shifted from “millionaire” to “billionaire”, and yet the rest of Canadian workers are left with less than ever.

If we don’t stand up now, then when? If workers don’t start the change, then who? The foundations of the future of labour have to be laid before corporations take it all. It’s time to take action and secure today the rights and benefits that will be enjoyed by workers tomorrow. These words ring all the more true now that bargaining with Telus is just around the corner.

This year, as most events will be held online, many of us will celebrate Labour Day from home. However, activism remains just as possible and as necessary in a world of physical distancing. Please take a moment to participate in a Labour Day event or action organized by a labour council near you. 

Stay safe and healthy.”

Acting President Donna Hokiro

United Steelworkers Labour Day social media contest 

What does solidarity mean to you? Post to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #USWLabourDay, and you will be entered in a draw to win some USW swag. There will be five draws for each district to win a selection of USW swag of your choice. More information here.

Labour Day Events 

In Canada
Canadian Labour Congress: Check out their active campaigns

In Alberta
Calgary and District Labour Council: Food drive, donate blood, and drawing contest for kids. More information here.
Edmonton and District Labour Council: Workers Helping Workers

In British Columbia
BC Federation of Labour: Check out their active campaigns
Unite Here Local 40: Donate to the BC Hospitality Workers Relief Fund
Fraser Valley Labour Council: Online Labour Day and prize giveaway on September 7
Vancouver and District Labour Council and New Westminster and District Labour Council: The labour councils will be jointly hosting a virtual Labour Day celebration on September 7, for their first ever Labour Council Elsies. These Oscar-style awards will recognize union members for their outstanding contributions in the labour movement. More information on the VDLC and NWDLC web sites. 

In Ontario
Durham Region Labour Council: Labour Day Virtual Celebration on September 7
Hamilton and District Labour Council: Caravan and tailgate on September 7
Ottawa and District Labour Council: Virtual Labour Day March and Picnic on September 7
Peel Regional Labour Council: Caravan Rally and prize giveaways on September 6
Sudbury and District Labour Council: Labour Day Car Parade and Rally on September 7
Toronto and York Region Labour Council: A virtual celebration featuring the faces and fans of the labour movement 

In Quebec
Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec: Check out their active campaigns

Kids celebrate Labour Day
Canadian Labour Congress: Download the Heroes Deserve Better Colouring Book in English or French
New Westminster and District Labour Council: Labour Day colouring challenge

Find more events by selecting a labour council near you.

In Solidarity,

USW Local 1944