Winnipeg: City of Contradictions
Winnipeg’s history is one of contradictions. On one hand, it was once the “Gateway to the West”. On the other hand, it was the city of labour and struggle. Out of their struggles sprung a wealth of labour and social activism and progressive political thought and organization.
G Stands for General Strike
The July/August issue of CD suggested that it was high time for activists and the Left in the labour movement to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of significant political struggles including mass work stoppages. The point is not to reminisce, but to participate in a debate around how to build resistance to the right-wing hammerings we continue to endure, with, frankly, no end in sight.
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.
What Happened in British Columbia?
The events that rocked British Columbia in late April and early May were both stunning and, sadly, almost predictable. Many progressive activists had forecast that a major labour confrontation with the hardline Campbell Liberal government would break out sooner or later. What few foresaw was the excitement in the streets as thousands of people rallied to back 40,000 health care strikers, and the euphoria as unions across the province geared up to walk off the job in solidarity.
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.
The P3 Files
ncert Properties is a big business. Between 1989 and 1999 it built 80 per cent of the rental housing constructed in Vancouver. With an asset base of $450 million in 2000, it’s now the largest developer of rental housing in Western Canada. Not bad for an enterprise completely controlled by the labour movement. Concert, and its companion enterprise Concert Real Estate Inc., constitute one of the more visible examples of “worker capitalism”, a phenomenon that had its inception in the 1980s and is now flourishing across Canada.
The Americanization of CN
It is day 16 of the strike at Symington Yard, the Canadian National Railway’s main hump yard in Winnipeg. The workers have been on strike since February 20. Since a deal has by now been reached, the question is why CN rail workers from Winnipeg to Montréal felt it was time to send a message to CN’s corporate headquarters.
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.
The Road to Union Renewal: From Organizing the Unorganized to New Political Alternatives
In many of the advanced economies, unions are in serious trouble. This crisis for unions is in part the result of changing workplaces and labour markets compounded by the hostility of employers and governments to unions.
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