The first Monday in September has been an official holiday in Canada since 1894; its origins lie with activists and workers who fought for the decriminalization of unions 20 years before the national holiday was enacted.
For many, Labour Day marks the end of summer and the return to school, but it is far more than simply a long weekend. It’s a day to celebrate the working class and the power of unions, but also a reminder that nothing has ever been given freely to workers; we have fought for our rights and must continue that fight today.
This is our second pandemic Labour Day. From the very beginning of the pandemic, CUPW and other unions, labour, and advocacy groups worked tirelessly to protect workers from COVID-19. Our efforts helped save lives and prevented people from getting sick, but many frontline workers, especially those who were not unionized, were not adequately protected. It’s unfathomable that the workers who are taking care of the sick, have kept the economy moving, and helped people stay home and stay safe are not properly protected and compensated.
This year’s Labour Day falls during a federal election campaign and the major parties are courting the worker vote. Remember that the Conservative party and Erin O’Toole are not worker-friendly as they want to make sure gig workers can’t unionize and have enacted and supported some of the most drastic back-to-work legislation in the past. CUPW encourages all members to support and vote for candidates who fight for workers, unions and the labour movement.
Hundreds of communities across the country hold picnics, parades, concerts and marches to mark the Labour Day. Members can find a list of events across the country on the CLC Website (https://canadianlabour.ca/events/labour-day-events-2021/). We encourage all CUPW members to participate in local events that show workers’ collective strength, advocate for better rights and protections, and celebrate our achievements.
Please support your local labour council and other organizations in their events, and share your photos with us on email or social media so that we can help show CUPW’s power and pride to the world.
Send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org, tag @CUPWSTTP on Facebook, and @cupw on Twitter.
In person: Ask your Local or district labour council what’s planned for Labour Day in your community and how you can participate.
Online: Check out your province’s Federation of Labour for online actions they are sharing for Labour Day.
And by all means, stay safe! The pandemic isn’t over and we must remain vigilant to protect ourselves, our co-workers, our families and our communities. Continue to meet outdoors whenever possible, keep your distance, wear your mask and get vaccinated if you can. If you choose to attend an in-person event, comply with safety protocols, respect others, and make it easier for us to gather in safety and strength.
THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES!