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Labour Day 2022

It seems that every year, Labour Day weekend is seen as the end of the summer vacation season, and that’s about it.  For many of us, Labour Day itself is the one last splash before children go back to school and home-life returns to some sense of normalcy.

 

I see Labour Day as a symbol or a reminder, kind of like Remembrance Day is to many.  Yes, my father fought in the second great war and my grandfather before him in the first, so I don’t mean to disparage November 11.  What I’m talking about is the other great struggle, the one endured by Labour, to fight for a better life for workers in this country and many others around the world.

 

You see, my father fought in that struggle as well, as did my mother.  Both were “Posties” and I recall being a young boy of about 4 or 5 years of age, walking the picket line around the post office, holding my mother’s hand.  My parents believed that workers deserved better, and that unionism was the best way to achieve that goal, that they were also fighting for all workers, just like the high tide raises all boats.

 

Many unionists talk about the 40-hour workweek and weekends, overtime rights, workers' compensation benefits, etc.  But so many put no thought towards what life was like before those things became the norm.

 

It wasn’t unusual for employers to expect their workers to work seven days a week for pennies per day, while they made great profits.  If workers injured themselves on the job, they were likely terminated. Dying on the job was also quite common and there are many stories that can be told about that “civilized society” that would shock you today.

 

When I think of Labour Day, I don’t think of all that we have won over the decades and continue to win today.  No, you’re more likely to catch me thinking of my parents, and the many others like them and those that came before.  What struggles did they endure?  What can we learn from those struggles and how can we avoid falling back into those old pitfalls again?  What can be done to help those around the world who have not yet won the rights that we likely take for granted?

 

From all of us at Local 464, we hope you all have a safe and solemn Labour Day.

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“They have demonstrated the dedication and leadership that
our Local requires. They have always provided sound counsel, support, and frank
discussion on matters involving the members, contract negotiations and our
Local.“ 

- Bruce Tillapaugh –Shop Steward. Island Farms, Victoria

"I was there when we brought the Union in. The first-time contract they won for us was unbelievable. It changed the quality of my life. I am now a Shop Steward and enjoy working with my Union and looking after my fellow workers. "

- Paul Landrecht - Shop Steward. Island Farms Dairy.
- Dave S