From groceries to gas to housing, the cost of living is skyrocketing. This increase in prices is called inflation.

When wages fail to keep up with inflation, workers fall behind.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Unions can help.

To protect workers against inflation, we need to bargain appropriate wage gains and cost-of-living increases.

Here’s why:

If you bargain a 1.5% wage increase, but inflation is at 6%, you’re losing money. In essence, you’ve bargained yourself a 4.5% pay cut – even though your paycheck looks like it’s gotten bigger!

In this scenario, you’d need to bargain a 6% increase just to keep even. You’d need to bargain over 6% to get an actual raise.

In addition to securing appropriate wage increases, we also need to bargain cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) into our collective agreements. These are clauses that automatically trigger wage increases when the cost of living rises. They’re especially helpful because it’s difficult to predict spikes in inflation.

Governments often tell public sector workers they can’t afford increasing wages when inflation is high. But that’s not true. When prices increase, government revenue also increases – from sales taxes, corporate taxes, property taxes, and more.

Employers can make people feel like they need to accept scraps, but workers deserve better. That’s why it’s so important for us to be united. If we don’t fight for fair wages now, conditions will only get worse.

When provinces impose wage restraints and austerity, our only solution is coordinated action – up to and including strike action.

Start the conversation about bargaining during inflation in your local today with this video.