From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Sunday, August 31, 2014


As I enjoy this Labour Day weekend I find my self reflecting on why I've become so strongly pro union.

 Yes there are many reasons you've all heard about why unions are vital. Better wages, pensions, legal representation etc, etc.

But there is one incident that I can look to as the point in my life that this importance hit home and hard.  I had held many jobs by this time both unionized and not and truth be told I was indifferent to whether or not I was unionized.

I told myself I'm able to take care of myself, even in those times when I got royally screwed over, but my epiphany had little to do with me. It has to do with a coworker who had put in four decades of loyal service.

Our employer was a tough but fair boss, however, everything changed when the son took over the business, a mean entitled brat. One of his first acts was to fire this gentleman who had worked for his grandfather who had started the business.

Me being the vocal one, often to my detriment, couldn't help but tell the boss that this was one of the lowest things I've ever seen. His reply?

"People are like tools and when a tool wears out you throw it away and buy a new one"

It is because I know there are many more employers like this out there and there will always be that I see unions as vital to the well being of workers.


  1. Well-articulated, Kev. This is something all people who don't think unions are relevant should read!

  2. Hi Lorne One of many reasons as you of course already know

  3. In the era of neoliberalism, individuals are disposable and valued only in proportion to their power.

    Like you, Kev, I was of two minds about unions even though I was represented by unions, guilds, etc. most of my working life. Canadian Auto Workers, petroleum workers (forgot the name), the Wire Service Guild, The Newspaper Guild, CUPE, ACTRA, the Canadian Bar Association and the B.C. Law Society.

    I spent some time exploring how the Progressive Movement at the turn of the last century helped lead to the union movement, first in the US and then up here, the way unions functioned during WWII and in the post-war decades until they were afflicted by the plague of neoliberalism spawned during the Reagan years. Not surprisingly, they rise and decline of unionism paralleled the rise of liberal democracy and, in decline, its replacement by illiberal democracy.

    The union movement was probably the major driver in the creation of North America's post-war middle class, a creature unlike any the world has known. That middle class was enormously broad, reaching from the professions all the way to organized labour. It created a ladder that enabled the impoverished to ascend to secure employment and a decent standard of living and to lift their children even higher.

    Now all that is little more than a memory. The union movement has been suppressed. The NDP has become neoliberal centrist. Social mobility is being choked off as equality - of income, wealth and, above all, of opportunity - is steadily weakened.

    We need a revolution, Kev. I won't see it in my lifetime but maybe you will.

  4. That day will come MoS, one just never knows what the spark may be