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In rhyming couplets and a clever schematic, the latest Why Unions Matter winners remind us that by standing together, we keep the worst of capitalism at bay.
Ottawa (08 July 2015) — Greed and power can get the worst of anyone. The two most recent winners of the $1,000 Why Unions Matter contest look at the ways in which unions help keep greed and power in check.
"It preys on those with the least to show"
Jessica Turgeon, a Niagara Falls liquor store worker and OPSEU Local 286 member, decided a poem with a nursery-rhyme feel was the best way to sing labour's praises.
Her Why Unions Matter gets right to the point: "Monsters exist you know / It preys on those with the least to show .... Its eyes are green and its wallet fat / Absorbing wealth like a blood sucking bat." Of course, every story needs a hero, and that's where people working together in a union come in. "An altruist, a hero, a union / Yes, that’s it! A blue-collar fusion."
'Voice, equality, security'
Meanwhile, New Brunswick university student Nicholas LeBlanc reminds us that not every hero has to be blue collar. In his schematic A Young Person Graphically Organizes Three Ways Unions Matter, he tells the tale of Robert Drummond, a 19th-century mine manager in Nova Scotia who couldn't stand by and watch as his workers had their wages cut. "He lost his job," LeBlanc writes, "but earned a career giving unions a voice."
LeBlanc further demonstrates why unions matter by highlighting the Canadian Union of Postal Workers' 1981 maternity leave strike, and his own fictional account of a father being suddenly fired. In those three examples, he reminds us that unions give "voice, equality, and security."
Contest still open: enter now
To anyone else with an interesting or artistic way to describe why unions matter, the contest is still on, and we’re continuing to award $1,000 prizes to best entries each month.
Send them along to Why Unions Matter contest.
More information:  
Why Unions Matter past winners, rules & regulations
NUPGE
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
NUPGE Components: 

Cover: PDF:  3_ways_unions_matter.pdfPublication date: June, 2015Link to PDF: Three Ways Unions MatterIssues and Campaigns: 

Body:  A Young Person Graphically Organizes Three Ways Unions Matter, by Nicholas LeBlanc
Series: Why Unions Matter Contest

“This truly is a sad day for Canadian democracy. It speaks volumes to the disrespect this government has for democracy and the rule of law when Prime Minister Harper personally direct these undemocratic tactics to ensure that Bill C-377 passes the Senate in order to appeal to the Conservatives’ right-wing base.” — James Clancy, NUPGE President

School teacher inspired to enter Why Unions Matter contest by the role unions played in the Japanese redress moment

Ottawa (17 June 2015) — As a high school teacher in rural Saskatchewan, Andre Boutin-Maloney knows first-hand that unions matter. For one thing, he belongs to the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and enjoys all the benefits that entails. 
But it wasn’t until he began doing research into the Japanese Canadian Redress Movement that Boutin-Maloney became inspired to enter NUPGE’s Why Unions Matter contest. His poem is the latest winner.
"Inspired by labour unions"
“I was simply inspired by how labour unions joined in the formation of The National Coalition for Japanese Canadian Redress and The Ad Hoc Committee for Japanese Canadians Redress,” says Boutin-Maloney. “I hope if nothing else, my poem serves as a reminder of the important work unions do every day.”
As Boutin-Maloney points out in his poem, all Canadians now enjoy the spoils of union victories:
"Eventually — we all win"
“More benefits unseen … / teachers bargain smaller classes / educations improves / nurses campaign / improved patient care / eventually — we all win.”
Congratulations to Boutin-Maloney. And to anybody else with an interesting or artistic way to describe Why Unions Matter, the contest is still on and we’re continuing to award $1,000 prizes to best entries each month.
Send them along to: whyunionsmatter@nupge.ca
More information:  
Why Unions Matter past winners, rules & regulations
NUPGE
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
Issues and Campaigns: 

"While legislation of this type is a responsibility of the provincial governments, I believe that this is an area where your office could provide much needed leadership." — James Clancy, National President, NUPGE
Ottawa (16 June 2015) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is calling on the federal Minister of Labour, Dr. Kellie Leitch, to use her position to encourage provinces to enact pay-before-you-pump legislation.
In a letter to the Minister, James Clancy, NUPGE's National President, points to the tragic and avoidable death of Maryam Rashidi — a 35-year-old Calgary resident and mother, who was killed by a stolen truck as she was attempting to stop a gas-and-dash while at work.
Another avoidable death of a gas station attendant
Ms. Rashidi’s death is yet another avoidable death of a gas station attendant who was working alone late at night.
Following Rashidi’s death, the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) has called for pay-before-you-pump legislation, something that already exists in British Columbia and other jurisdictions. In addition, the AFL is calling for mandatory employee training and legislation that will establish an employer’s responsibility to keep late-night workers safe.
Federal government should show leadership
Clancy writes that while "legislation of this type is a responsibility of the provincial governments, I believe that this is an area where your office could provide much needed leadership."
"You could use your position as the federal Minister of Labour to encourage and assist provinces in introducing and adopting pay-at-the-pump legislation and enacting related safety measures."
Minister could use office to move issue forward
Clancy is urging the Minister to take three steps to help make pay-before-you-pump legislation a reality in every province:

  1. Publicly announce support for pay-before-you-pump legislation
  2. Commission research on best practices for protecting these workers and draft model pay-before-you-pump legislation that could be adopted by provincial governments
  3. Include the issue of pay-before-you-pump legislation on the agenda of the next meeting of provincial Ministers of Labour.

Now is the time for action
"Too many people have died already" wrote Clancy. "Too many families have felt the pain of losing a family member through an avoidable accident. The time to act on this matter is now."
NUPGE
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
Issues and Campaigns: 

A tribute to Artist Bob Kell, 1944-2015

By James Clancy
Ottawa (16 June 2015) — Bob Kell was one of ours. He died on May 31, 2015. He was a soldier in our army—the army of all big-hearted, open-handed, generous and kind fighters for the dignity and value of all working people everywhere. 
Bob was an artist. He fought the good fight with his art. He asked no quarter and gave none.  He did not use his art to merely mirror reality. He used it as a hammer to shape reality. Bob hammered away at it all his life. In paint, sculpture and fabric he worked to capture and depict the worth of all who labour and the worth of our ideals of solidarity and fraternity. He did it well.
Winnipeg General Strike series
His greatest success came with a long series of works on the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. The series was 10 years in the making. It debuted in a union-sponsored showing in Winnipeg in 1985.
In 1990 the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) commissioned a major mural from Bob for the main foyer in the union’s headquarters.
A number of Bob’s works from his Winnipeg General Strike collection are also featured in the Canadian Museum of History.
Bob worked fulltime at his art all his life. But his art was always considered “too political” to sell well. He always had to work at other jobs to get by. However, he never gave up his campaign to free “high art” from the grip of the ruling class. He believed that grip meant we were all being deprived of a great part of the “history that belongs to us.”
It’s safe to say Bob Kell was the greatest artist working people in Canada have ever had on their side.
Undeniable value
The value of his work is undeniable. There is no better proof of that than the recent decision by the Canadian Museum of History to dismantle the exhibit on the Winnipeg General Strike. This is just one more example of how working class history, “the history that belongs to us”, can be erased or discarded. So long as Bob’s paintings exist a part of that history—the history that belongs to us—will exist.
There can be no better epitaph for Bob than the last words of another great union man, Joe Hill, who said: “Don’t mourn. Organize.” 
Bob didn’t have to say it. His paintings always will.
NUPGE
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
 
Issues and Campaigns: 

2015 New Labour Trilogy provides analysis and interpretation of the three January 2015 Supreme Court of Canada decisions on labour rights, as well as insights on how they may be applied in current and future Charter litigation involving labour rights.

Three young Canadians are the latest winners of NUPGE’s $1,000 Why Unions Matter contest.

"The importance of the Canadian middle class cannot be overstated. It's what drives the economy and our country is at its best when it's strongest." — The New Brunswick Union 

Fredericton (03 June 2015) — The New Brunswick Union (NBU/NUPGE) has launched a new television ad campaign to highlight the important role that unions play in maintaining a strong middle class.
Unions helped create a strong middle class and a thriving economy
The NBU/NUPGE says,"The importance of the Canadian middle class cannot be overstated. It's what drives the economy and our country is at its best when it's strongest."
The ad reminds people that one of the biggest factors in creating the middle class was the hard work, sacrifices and gains made through the labour movement — including unionization.
Beginning with the 1940s and moving through several decades, the Canadian economy and levels of unionization were directly linked. The more unionized workers there were, the stronger the middle class and the better the economy.
Since 2000, this upward trend has changed. Unionized jobs have been decreasing, the gap between the rich and poor increasing and the middle class disappearing.
NBU/NUPGE to work with government and employers to strengthen the province
The NBU/NUPGE believes a strong middle class is key to helping the province out of its fiscal problems and back to financial stability. The NBU/NUPGE wants to work with the provincial government and employers in the private sector to find solutions and strengthen New Brunswick.
This latest commercial reflects the belief that one way to do it is by bolstering the ranks of the middle class and unions.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
NUPGE
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
NUPGE Components: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Despite the best efforts by the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations to force an agreement on many of the province's health professionals, the members of Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan (SAHO) have soundly rejected the final offer.

Regina (May 29, 2015) – Specialized health care professionals represented by the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan (HSAS/CHPS) have voted 80 per cent to reject a so-called ‘final offer’ contract proposal from Saskatchewan health care employers that are represented by SAHO, reported Karen Wasylenko, HSAS/CHPS President. 
A forced vote
“In spite of SAHO forcing our members to vote on this so-called final offer, and launching an extensive misinformation campaign throughout the voting period, our professionals have spoken loud and clear: they reject this unfair, disrespectful contract offer, which did not provide full retroactivity on proposed wage adjustments, and would have capped the employer’s share of future increases in professional licensing fees,” Wasylenko said.
“Throughout these long and difficult contract negotiations, health care employers, represented by SAHO, have shown that they disrespect and undervalue the vital work being done for Saskatchewan patients by our specialized health care professionals. This latest insult — forcing a vote on an unfair contract proposal — has been rejected out of hand by our professional members,” Wasylenko noted.
Rejection despite misleading propaganda from employer group
“This clear rejection came in spite of SAHO’s attempts to distribute misleading propaganda to our professionals in every health region. Some materials appeared to be designed to suggest their information was coming from Health Sciences rather than the employer; SAHO also threatened that a “no” vote could lead to early job action. How much better off would Saskatchewan health care and patients be today if SAHO had spent the past six weeks negotiating in good faith, rather than wasting time and public money on this misleading propaganda?” Wasylenko asked.
“SAHO seems determined to try to provoke Health Sciences into taking job action, rather than bargaining in good faith. The message of this vote is clear — SAHO needs to get back to the bargaining table with a new contract offer now,” Wasylenko concluded.
Strong rejection of offer
Ballots, 3,597 of them, were mailed to Health Sciences' members across the province on May 6 through the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (LRB). Under provincial law, the LRB supervised the voting process after SAHO forced the vote on its so-called final offer. The membership response rate was 63 per cent, with 2,268 returned ballots. Eighty per cent of the members voted "no" to the SAHO proposal.
Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan represents 3,600 specialized health care professionals from more than thirty professions including

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