By SMART General President Joe Nigro –
This article, submitted to the Members’ Journal by James Jackson, SMART’s Director of Canadian Affairs, applies not just to Canadian members and trade unionists, but to all of us in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Share your message of pride via text or through a simple image meme to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will not only spread your message, but enter you in a contest for an iPad mini. All messages and related images will be placed on SMART’s Facebook page at facebook.com/smartunion. The top entry with the most likes and the top entry with the most shares on the SMART Facebook site will receive a new iPad mini. The two winners will be announced on Labor Day, Sept. 2, 2013.
Unions are under attack, forever and a day, from all directions. If it is not coming from the federal government in Canada in the form of Bill C377 or other potential draconian legislation, then it is the provincial and or local governments proposing similar ideas. Beyond those measures, we have the right wing-controlled media jumping on the union-bashing bandwagon at every opportunity.
All these attacks come because unions want to provide a better standard of living for working men and women, while ensuring a safe working environment for everyone. If unions want these for all working persons, not just union members, how evil can unions be?
Here are a few questions to consider:
Are you still proud of your union? Are you still proud to be a union member? Are you still proud of the decision you made to be a union brother or sister, or are you succumbing to mounting pressure from the right wing that insists unions are bad and the world would be better without them?
If you are wavering on your commitment, that’s exactly what the right wing hopes to achieve: a union-free environment with no rules except the ones that employers can arbitrarily dictate.
If there were no unions, would you be earning the wages and benefits you currently receive? Would there be overtime pay for hours worked outside the regular workweek? Would there even be a regular workweek? Would paid holidays, parental leave or bereavement leave even exist? I believe we all know the answers. Without unions, none of these would exist. No employer or policy maker woke up one day and suddenly decided that overtime pay or parental leave or any of the advances working people made in the last century was the right thing to do. These advances came about because working people formed unions to fight for them and then protect what they accomplished.
I know we have the interest out there. Recently, I received email from a member asking if I had any union stickers or other paraphernalia that he could get to show “union pride.” He did not say his union pride, just “union pride.” It felt really good to read an email from a member who knows the meaning of those words.
It seems to me that we have become far too complacent over the years when it comes to the union bashing going on out there.
Fighting fire with fire does not always work, and it can create an even bigger fire. But if we fight fire with water, we can put the fire out, and that is what we want – an end to union bashing.
It is high time we started showing more “union pride.” We must begin to speak positively about ourselves and not take for granted the things we have today – protections and benefits that our brothers and sisters in the past fought hard to obtain. There are over 3 million union members in Canada. If just once a day, every union member said something positive about their union, there would be over 3 million positive statements a day and over a billion in a year. Do you think any right wing-minded government or media can match that? Even if only 10 percent of our union brothers and sisters made a single positive comment, that would be very difficult for the naysayers to match. Saying something positive about ourselves not only makes us feel good, but others start to listen as well. More positive statements generate more listeners and the possibility of a wide-reaching change in attitude.
With all the existing technology, it should be so easy to get the positive message about unions out there, but we are not doing it enough.
On the basis that a lot of union pride is out there, I am asking every Sheet Metal and Transportation member in SMART to help us share your union pride message as widely as possible.
Fraternally with union pride,
SMART Director of Canadian Affairs