Labour Report: 2005 and Beyond
In a few months the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) will hold its national convention in Montréal. Already many activists are considering the content of potential policy and constitutional resolutions and there is considerable discussion of whether there will be a leadership challenge to CLC President Ken Georgetti.
Last issue I wrote a column about the BC Hospital Workers’ strike and the efforts of the B.C. Federation of Labour (BC Fed) to organize support for the Hospital Employees Union (HEU). I expressed the belief that it was the solidarity of HEU members and the prospect of coordinated support strike action being organized by the B.C. Federation of Labour that forced the government to resume bargaining with the HEU and agree to the union’s demand to significantly limit contracting out of work. Some people whom I respect were angry that I was not critical of the leadership. I wasn’t and I am still not.
Public Sector Struggles Continue
here is something almost magical about the power of spontaneous worker solidarity. Across the country, the images of steel workers and bus drivers and municipal workers joining the British Columbia hospital workers on the picket lines struck a chord in the very base of our collective unconsciousness.
It’s enough to make your heart skip a beat. It doesn’t happen often. When it does, foundations begin to tremble. This is worth remembering.
Trade Unions and the Left
On almost every issue trade union members are significantly more progressive than the other segments of the population. I suppose there are many reasons for this. Collective power probably gives union members the confidence to think more about the potential for changing things. Union education programs undoubtedly play a role. The democratic process of unions also requires members to discuss and debate issues.
So it should not come as a surprise that gaining employment in a unionized workplace would promote some leftward political movement among a proportion of the members. Of course one can overstate the political development of union members. Unionists may be twice as likely to vote for the NDP than the new Conservative Party, but a majority of union members still choose the Liberals as their first voting choice.
Labour report: labour battles in B.C. and Quebec
Recent political developments do not bode well for unionized public-sector workers. While the decisive defeat of the Tories in Ontario is welcome news, the actions of the provincial Liberals reveal they have no intention of undoing the damage inflicted by Mike Harris.
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