The following is a Labour Day statement from Dennis Mol, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Alberta Division President:
On this Labour Day, I, as well as many of my colleagues and allies from the labour movement, will join Edmonton and Calgary’s labour councils to highlight the need for solutions to help the unemployed and underemployed across the province.
At the 20th annual Edmonton & District Labour Council Barbecue for the Unemployed and Underemployed and the 1st ever Calgary & District Labour Council Barbecue, we will feed thousands of mouths in the inner city who too often go hungry. We will hand out fruit and juices to people who may not have a home to bring the nourishment back to. We will entertain kids with sound and music they may never have the opportunity to learn.
It is appropriate on this day, Labour Day, to pay tribute to the many victories of organized labour in the struggle for safety on the jobsite, the eight-hour day, the right to organize, and better pay.
But we must also remember those without those opportunities. Those without jobs, homes, or hope. Those who were injured on the job and those who have lost a primary breadwinner. Those who have slipped through the cracks in one of the wealthiest regions in the world, and who are facing a long, hard, fall and winter on the streets or in and out of inadequate shelter, with inadequate food or clothing.
We must remember the unorganized, and lend a hand, while shouting for our municipal, provincial, and federal politicians to do the same. To not only defend our public services, but expand them, to address the inequality in Canada that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says is growing faster than the majority of other developed economies.
And we must remember that struggles continue even for those with the protection of a union. Within CUPE, the people who clean and run our schools, and those who assist special needs children are being told that their contracts will not be followed anymore. The provincial government is telling education workers that a deal is not necessarily a deal, and that they have to settle for less to take home to their families. To us, this is not acceptable, and we will fight to enforce legal, binding contracts.
On this Labour Day, I will re-commit myself to the task of building stronger communities and a better Alberta. CUPE members will uphold their commitment to building strong communities through our commitment to schools, health care, post-secondary institutions, our municipalities, libraries, our long-term care facilities, women’s shelters, and the youth homes where we work.
Please celebrate Labour Day with us at Giovanni Caboto Park in Edmonton, or at the Olympic Plaza in Calgary, and make a difference.
President, CUPE Alberta