Labour Day — Does ‘Solidarity Forever’ mean solidarity for everyone?

Labour Day — Does ‘Solidarity Forever’ mean solidarity for everyone?

By Shachi Kurl, President

The Labour Day long weekend is when many reflect on the role Canadian unions have played in our nation’s history. “Solidarity forever” may be the tune people hum in the coming days. But is it solidarity for everyone?

This has been an intense year for Canada’s labour movement, as witnessed by the massive federal government employee strike. WestJet workers had summer travellers holding their breath in May before reaching a deal with employers. The twists and turns of the British Columbia port strike resembled a soap opera more than a job action — only with much, much higher stakes. In Toronto, grocery workers fought for better working conditions, and workers at TVO continue to. Ontario elementary teachers are still wrangling with the province and in the nation’s capital, the Hydro Ottawa strike is reportedly holding up work on a new light-rail line.

New public opinion data from us at the Angus Reid Institute finds that, overall, Canadians mostly view unions as having had a positive impact on their members. Notably, younger women are more likely to say unions have positive impacts — on the members they represent, on the Canadian economy, and on Canada as a whole. Younger women are also more likely to say unions in Canada today aren’t powerful enough.

But are unions serving the sisterhood as well as they should? The data also show female workers more circumspect about the benefits of their membership. They are 10 percentage points less likely than men in unions to say they feel satisfied that their own guild represents their interests. This is a significant gap.

Read more from the article in the Ottawa Citizen here.

Image Credit – PSAC/Facebook