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Monday, March 24, 2014

Unions Have Made A Better Life For All Canadians

Unions Have Made A Better Life For All Canadians

By on March 24, 2014
David Murray
By David Murray. I was at the local gym in Pitt Meadows today working out. I overheard a conversation from a young man who was talking to a young lady. He was telling her that he was doing all the work and the older guys, twice his age were doing nothing. He was saying that he hated working for a union.
I guess it would be hard to blame him in some ways. After all he was all of 22 years old! His generation has not seen much positive press about belonging to a union. When the B.C. Liberals took over the government in 2001 approximately 44% of all workers belonged to a union. Today sad to say it is only 26%. 2001-to 2014 , that is a couple of generations for a young worker.
I went up to him and started talking to him. I was interested in why he had such a bad opinion about unions.
He went on to tell me that at his job , there are two-tiers. Workers with benefits and young workers with little or no benefits (medical-sick leave-etc). Most of his generation are not getting 40 hours a week. A lot of them are working part-time and have to get a job somewhere else. This makes it hard to participate in a lot of the union activities, meetings etc. (Companies are making it harder all the time for younger workers-With all the new labour language it is getting harder and harder to get union benefits)
After I let him have his say, I agreed that things certainly were not perfect in the union movement. That being said I started to ask him some questions? Did he know that people used to work 10 hours a day and six days a week , with NO overtime. Sunday was the only day they got off. There was no medical plans what-so-ever. No seniority, when you got old and couldn’t do the job any longer you were let go for a younger worker.
There was no work safe policies that all workers enjoy today. Women had it even harder, very low pay, no sexual harassment policy. And of course no child labour laws, kids were in factories working at age 8 and 9.
He didn’t realize that the union movement did so much for workers in the early part of the century.
Why would he? Now a lot of companies when you are being hired as part of your training show you a video on why you do not need to belong to a union.
Plus so many companies have reduced their amount of workers so that low paying contractors can come in and do as much as cheaply as possible. We have a “Free Trade Agreement” with China. This is making it hard to compete for workers. Outsourcing of jobs in our country has reached epidemic proportions.
This has not been the fault of Unions and Canadian workers.
It has been caused by corporate greed! Canadians companies currently are holding billions of dollars in surplus money and not reinvesting it in our country to create jobs or stimulate and grow the economy. It is shameful.
The young man after talking to him for five minutes, thanked me for telling him about the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who toiled and suffered under adverse conditions so we all could enjoy a better life.

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