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November 15, 2016
Last week was a big week – important things happened that I hope you were able to take some time and think about.
First, last Friday was Remembrance Day. The day once a year where we, as a nation, pause to remember the sacrifices of the men and women who served our country in the military. This matters, because the rights and freedoms that these people fought and died to protect are the rights and freedoms that we have today, including freedom from oppression, freedom of thought, speech and association, and the right to essentially live as we want to live. This is no small matter, as there are people all over the world who do not have these rights and freedoms, nor do they have anyone fighting to get it for them.
Unions fight for your rights as well. It is because of the close association between the military and unions that the BTA partners with Helmets to Hardhats, a national organization that works with the unionized building trades to help Canadians transitioning from their work in the military to working in the civilian world, by helping them use the skills they learned serving our country and apply them to work in the trades, with the support of locals across Canada. Learn more at helmetstohardhats.ca or talk to your local and help get the word out – there are always more people that we can help.
Second, there was an election last week too (you may have heard). Why does that matter here? It matters because the men who will be the new President and Vice-President of America actively work against unions. The first spent half a million dollars recently fighting certification at his property in Las Vegas, and refused to bargain after certification was granted. The second, while governor of Indiana, fought for right-to-work legislation, which is essentially anti-union and has been shown to decrease the average worker’s wage and reduce the overall output of the economy. Having two anti-union leaders running the country south of the border can make things more difficult for unionized labour everywhere.
Get involved! If we, as the unionized building trades are to have any chance of protecting what we have worked to build, or hope to build in the future, our members voices need to be heard. Not with protests and marches – those are a last resort. We need to get involved politically. Join boards and committees. Run for office locally, regionally, provincially, on your school board –anywhere decisions about our future are being made. You can bet our competition is doing it, and if we don’t make sure the union voice is heard, then everything we are fighting for, everything our forbearers fought for will be lost.
It can be hard to look forward when we are struggling to hold on to what we have right now, but that is exactly what we need to do. We need, as a group, to get into positions which can impact the environment in which we operate for years to come. We have never had a government so willing to let us in and have a say, and we are not likely to have this opportunity for much longer, so find out how you can invest some of your time, your energy and your spirit to help ensure that our apprentices have work to go to and that the unionized building trades remain a powerful and reliable force for building our province.