National President’s column
In January, our labour movement was dealt a serious blow when the country’s largest private sector union, Unifor, announced it was leaving the Canadian Labour Congress.
I was disappointed in Unifor’s decision. Their departure has already weakened our labour movement and has damaged union solidarity across Canada.
I was disappointed, too, because of the consequences of this decision taken by Unifor’s executive. The CLC constitution is clear: in disaffiliating from the CLC, Unifor members have lost their rights to participate in the CLC, its federations of labour, and its labour councils. And for our local labour councils that means losing the energy, talent and volunteer hours of many talented Unifor activists.
But mostly I am angered by the raids launched by Unifor in Toronto, where they campaigned to take hotel workers in Toronto from another union, Unite HERE. Our labour movement will never grow if we spend our precious resources fighting amongst unions for workers who are already organized, instead of organizing the hundreds of thousands of workers who do not already have the benefit of a union.
CUPE has been very clear: while Unifor is raiding our sisters and brothers in other unions, there is no place for them in our house of labour.
The absence of Unifor has created a vacuum on the ground – but it also creates an opportunity for CUPE members to step up. As Canada’s largest union, now is not the time to pull back. The onus is on all of us, to show up in bigger numbers and in more ways than ever before.
That is why I am asking you to join and participate in your local labour councils, and to affiliate with your provincial federations of labour.
Together, we must do everything we can to strengthen our movement. The labour movement is at our best, and our most powerful, when we stand united.
Working to rebuild that unity and restore union solidarity within Canada’s labour movement remains my number one priority.