Society President Scott Travers greeted members with the following Labour Day message:
I hope you had a great summer. And I hope that you will have a wonderful Labour Day! It is more than a long weekend; it’s also an opportunity to have a lot of fun while reflecting on all the achievements of labour in securing good, safe jobs for everyone.
You may not realize this, but Labour Day and the tradition of Labour Day parades in Canada has its origins with a professional union here in Ontario. On April 14, 1872, 2,000 workers from the Toronto Typographical Union — a union of professionals — took to the streets to demand the workday be capped at nine hours. On their way to Queen’s Park, thousands of other workers joined in. The crowd was 10,000 strong —10% of Toronto’s population — by the time they reached their destination. It turned out to be the first annual Labour Day parade.
The labour movement grew stronger through the 20th century. Unions won shorter workweeks, the weekend, employment insurance, workplace safety laws, and maternity and parental benefits. While those policies lifted up union members, they also benefited other workers, too. Fighting for all — union member or not — remains a core principle of Canada’s labour movement. Labour is involved in many initiatives to improve working conditions for everyone, whether unionized or not. One major campaign which will affect all workers in Ontario is the provincial government’s Changing Workplaces Review, which is looking at how to update the province’s employment and labour laws to reflect today’s realities. You should expect to hear more about this from The Society in the coming months.
For now, again, I want to wish you a happy Labour Day. I will be at the Toronto Parade on Monday, and I encourage you to enjoy this weekend’s festivities. Click here to find out about events scheduled across the province, including free barbeques and Toronto’s march to the CNE (those marching get in free).
IFPTE’s International President Greg Junemann issued the following Labour Day message to the union’s 80,000 members across North America:
Labour Day brings many thoughts to mind.
Labour Day marks the end of the summer months. While those of us with kids have already seen the start of another school year, the Labour Day weekend signals the last deep breath before our families plunge back into the swing of a new school year. It kick-starts the season when footballs are flying, and leaves are falling, and (God forbid) we need to dig though our closets for our jackets and sweatshirts. For Americans, and interested Canadians (who are all VERY interested this year), Labour Day also means the big final push toward Election Day in the US.
And, of course, we need to focus on the real reason we celebrate Labour Day in Canada and the US. We enjoy a day off to acknowledge the value each of us bring to our communities through the work we do. After all, that’s the real point of Labour Day.
Labour Day is OUR day. It’s All Workers’ Day. It’s a day that’s set aside for us to openly embrace the true meaning of Dr. Martin Luther King’s message that, “All labour has dignity.” It’s the day when each of us – regardless of what we do for a living – can acknowledge the work of others, while we also unabashedly accept the gratitude shown to us on our one special day of the year. (By the way, got plans on going out to lunch on Monday after the parade? Please remember to leave a bigger tip than you normally do.)
While all labour and all work have dignity, and having a job does much to enhance our self-respect, we need more. With the “Fight for 15″ comes a stark reminder that we need jobs that build the middle class. Jobs with real wages. Jobs that lead to meaningful careers. Jobs that allow us to raise families – to build communities – to build cities – to build our nations’ economies. In short, we need union jobs.
So, Labour Day also means a celebration of the word “Labour” with a capital L. It’s a special day for all workers, and it’s an especially golden day for those of us who are union members. Enjoy the day. You’ve earned it.
Happy Labour Day!