Labour Day is an important opportunity to take time to relax, spend time with family and friends and celebrate the one day of the year dedicated to working people. Labour Day is also an opportunity to recognize the contributions that union wages and benefits make in our communities.
Over a century ago, trade unions marked the day to celebrate their achievements most notably their push for an eight-hour work day. In 1894, Labour Day became an official statutory holiday for everyone to enjoy. What had begun with unions standing up for fairness, finished with something for everyone to enjoy.
That's been the story of the labour movement: when unions stand up for fairness, we all benefit. Researchers at the Canadian Labour Congress have demonstrated this fact by showing the link between vibrant communities and the number of union members who live there. We call this connection “The Union Advantage.”
Researchers at the Canadian Labour Congress have found that on average unionized workers in Victoria earn $6.15 an hour more than do non-union workers. That extra money in the pockets of the city’s 52,400 unionized employees translates into an added $11.3 million every week paid into our local economy.
Union membership is especially important for women and younger workers. Research shows that in Canada, women who belong to a union earn an average of $6.89 an hour more than women in non-unionized workplaces. Young workers aged 15 to 24 earn an additional $3.16 an hour with a union at work, which makes a difference as they build lives for themselves, pay off student loans, take mortgages and start families.
Decent wages mean prosperous communities because unionized workers spend their pay cheques close to home. They support local businesses and bolster the local tax base which, in turn, supports public works, community services and charities.
2014 marks the 26th year since the Canadian Labour Council and United Way Canada came together to sign a formal Labour Partnership Agreement. Across this country and here in the Capital Regional District union members should be proud of the work they do to strengthen and build community. In the Capital Regional District, unionized workplaces contributed over half of the total workplace campaign goal. United Way Campaigns are a place that Employers and Unions come together to ensure that kids make successful transitions to adulthood, that our most vulnerable find pathways out of poverty and that we have opportunities and places for social interaction in our community.
The Victoria Labour Council worked closely with the United Way Labour Committee of the Board to find champions of the workplace campaign so that we can shine a light on the importance of union members who are committed to community. We know that this commitment is strong right across Canada and are proud to find ways that recognize and celebrate it here in our community.
Once again this year the Victoria Labour Council is proud to sponsor the 2014 United Way Campaign Kick Off. The event will take place on September 17, 2014 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Spirit Square (Centennial Square beside Victoria City Hall, Douglas Street).
Many of the things first won by unions are enjoyed by all workers today, including minimum wages, overtime pay, workplace safety standards, maternity and paternity leaves, vacation pay and protection from discrimination and harassment.
We believe in the saying that what we want for ourselves we seek for all. We have pushed those who hold elected office in our local boards, city councils and legislatures to provide a broad range of family-supporting public programs and services. For example, every Canadian should, after a lifetime of work, be able to retire with enough saved to cover the basics. Which is why we are working to convince governments to expand the Canada Pension Plan, so people can retire with dignity.
This is particularly important this year as BC goes to the polls in November to elect our representatives to local governments and school boards for the next four years.
As we have seen in recent years, the voter turnout in local government elections has been dismal. BC has the lowest participation rates in the country for local government elections at less than 30%.
Again this year, the Victoria Labour Council will play an active role in encouraging union members to exercise their democratic rights and participate in these elections.
Kids Eat Free!
Special Musical Guests The Kingmixers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2014
VICTORIA, BC – United Way, the labour movement and Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) are teaming up to deliver a new project in Greater Victoria focused on supporting vulnerable, non- unionized, low-wage workers.
TAPS Employment Rights and Education Project will ensure that vulnerable, non-unionized, low-wage workers in the Capital Regional District (CRD) understand their rights as they pertain to the BC Employment Standards Act and receive summary advice and/or representation as required. Together Against Poverty Society is the first and only organization in Greater Victoria to offer such a service.
United Way is providing funding to TAPS under their 2014 community investment in the tune of $30,000 for the next 2 years. The Victoria Labour Council and affiliated unions are collectively contributing nearly $20,000 to enhance the work of TAPS’s Employment Rights and Education Project.
“Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in vulnerable, non-unionized, low-wage workers, such as youth and new immigrants coming to our office for support with Employment Standards issues and we have been unable to keep up with the demand,” says TAPS Legal Advocate, Stephen Portman. “We are thrilled that both United Way and the labour movement have responded positively to our request for support, forming a unique partnership that will ensure workers’ rights in Greater Victoria are respected.”
“TAPS approached United Way for financial support for this project and made a strong case that demonstrated the need for such a program and the benefits that would result for these workers who are in some of the most precarious low-wage jobs in the CRD,” says Patricia Jelinski, CEO at United Way. “We worked with TAPS to bring other interested groups to the table and are pleased that the labour movement has partnered with us to deliver this collaborative and important initiative.”
Mike Eso, president of the Victoria Labour Council is extremely proud of the labour movement’s decision to support the project. “This is exactly the type of project the labour movement can support to make a difference in the community. The labour movement fundamentally believes that all workers deserve fair treatment. This project will help ensure that some of the most vulnerable workers in Greater Victoria, who do not have the protection provided by unions, will still benefit from our support.” The project is being supported by a broad coalition of unions including: the BC Government Employees Union (BCGEU), Canadian Union of Public Employees BC (CUPEBC), the Greater Victoria Teachers Association (GVTA), UNIFOR, the Professional Employees Association (PEA), the Victoria Labour Council (VLC) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).
For more information, please contact:
Stephen Portman, TAPS
Employment Standards Advocate
BACKGROUND: TAPS & Employment Rights and Education Project - This exciting new project fills a real need in the community in promoting fairness in the workplace for workers. As part of the Community Action Plan on Poverty, this project will help ensure that employees receive fair compensation for their work, and are not subjected to undignified working conditions. As well, this project helps increase access to justice for those who have a legitimate claim against their employers, but who cannot afford the services of a lawyer. If clients think that they have been wrongly dismissed, are owed money from an employer, or would like help talking with their employer about working conditions that violate employment standards, clients should contact TAPS to make an appointment as soon as possible.
Heather Skydt, United Way
Director Marketing and Communications
BACKGROUND: United Way is about change. We bring people together to change lives and build strong communities. We offer opportunities and resources to improve the social conditions and the well-being of individuals, families and neighbourhoods in the Capital Regional District. As the largest non-government funder in the region, United Way has raised over $144 Million to build a strong community since 1937. We are a leader in social change. Join us at uwgv.ca.
President Victoria Labour Council
BACKGROUND: The Victoria Labour Council (VLC) is the local organization of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The CLC represents 3.2 million unionized workers across Canada. The VLC was founded over 100 years ago and is one of the oldest labour organizations in BC. The Canadian Labour Congress and United Way have come together at both a national and local level to engage and support workers and working families.