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Our Movement is Being Oppressed

While more workers in the U.S. and Canada want to organize or form a union, right wing ideologies in both countries are working hard to oppress workers. In the southern U.S. for years, we have been dealing with Right to Work laws that allow individuals to enjoy the work of the union without paying dues. 

Most recently, the U.S. Supreme Court in a case Janus v. AFSCME, prohibited public sector unions from requiring non-member employees to pay agency fees covering the costs of non-political union activities, creating a quasi-national right to work for public employees.  Many provinces and local governments are now doing the same in Canada. 

The oppressor’s goal is to silence the voice of unions and workers both in the U.S. and Canada, weakening our power. The same ideology in the U.S. of suppressing the citizen’s right to democracy and the right to fair wages has made its way north of the border. These conservative politicians have passed laws in Alberta and Ontario to oppress workers in Canada. 

Passage of Bill 1 in Alberta criminalizes the right to peaceful protest affecting workers’ rights to confront their employers. The Alberta legislative body passed Bill 32, which made sweeping changes to the province’s labour relations with the broad aim of Americanizing Alberta’s labour relations system. One of the more significant changes was to require to ‘opt-in’ to union dues intended for so called non-core activities like the agency fees in the U.S.


Harm Done to Any Worker is a Threat to All Workers

In Ontario, the legislative body introduced Bill 124, which imposes a series of 3-year “moderation periods” on public sector workers that limit workers’ salaries and other monetary compensation. During the moderation period, no new increases to your salary and your benefits will exceed 1% per year. We know these tactics all too well in the states, as the same was done to public workers in Iowa and Wisconsin. Only our 13(c) employee protections prevented harm to ATU public sector workers. However, I suggest to you that harm done to any worker is a threat to each of us.


Stand Up to the Attacks

As we head into our 60th International Convention, inflation in the states is at its highest in decades, and the attacks continue by so called conservative legislative bodies in the United States and Canada. We must strive to be stronger together to fight back against these attacks. The standard of living we have today depends on it. I am asking each of us to stand up to these attacks by becoming involved and participating in the legislative process locally in your community, state, or province and at the national level.  Will we give in to our oppressors or fight?