Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labour Day!

"Today, as we mark Labour Day, it’s healthy to look back at where we came from, and not forget the sacrifices made by organized labour that have contributed to the quality of life that not just members of unions, but all of us enjoy today; everything from paid holidays and sick leave to pensions and workplace safety standards. None of these rights we now all take for granted were handed to us. They were all won after hard fought battles. Organized labour has a proud history, but it’s just that – history. And while it’s important to understand it, it’s even more important to look ahead.

"Priorities have changed with the times and as with any organization, change is necessary to remain relevant. In the case of unions, there have been many changes over the years and it has been no different with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. When the I.B.E.W. was founded, its priority was improved safety measures because at the time, one out of two electrical workers died on the job from some sort of workplace accident. But that was more than a hundred years ago. Today, we’ve helped create safer workplaces and it isn’t saving lives but improving quality of life that defines what we do.

"Working co-operatively with our employers, many of our members, like employees in many organizations, now have Employee and Family Assistance Programs, flexible work hours, job-sharing options, family leave, wellness programs and any number of initiatives aimed at improving the workplace, creating a better work-life balance and at the same time improving productivity.

"These are just some of the ways that organized labour continues to play a role in creating a better standard of life in our society. Keep in mind that while unionized employees tend to get paid better than non-union people, and enjoy better benefits, all workers tend to benefit over time as other employers realize they have to do better by their non-union workers to retain them. As a result the employees do better, but so do the communities they live in, because of the increased tax base and increased economic activity."

Ross Galbraith is the Business Manager for Local 37 of the IBEW.  You can read the rest of his Labour Day article by clicking here.

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