Read CUPE Local 79 President Tim Maguire’s Labour Day 2014 remarks.
“We must all march with union pride on Labour Day. Workers’ rights and benefits, that are now taken for granted, are rooted in a hard fought history dating back to 1872. The first Labour Day event happened in 1872 when unions were illegal in Canada.
The Toronto Printers Union went on strike for a nine-hour work day in March of 1872. The strikers faced police action, arrests and scabs were brought in to do the printers’ jobs. But support for the strikers and the “Nine Hour Movement” grew rapidly culminating in Prime Minister John A. Macdonald repealing the British law that criminalized unions. The Trade Union Act was passed and the strikers were released from jail.
The parade held in support of the strikers has carried on to this day – our annual Labour Day celebration.
Unions continue to fight for fairness and the results of our struggles benefit everyone in our society – unionized or not. The push for decent wages, safe workplaces, pensions, public health, and child care continue to this day. Local 79 is actively involved in the Canadian Labour Congress campaign Together Fairness Works . The campaign highlights the success of working people, working together to make fairness a fundamental value of our society.
The work that CUPE Local 79 members do builds strong communities.
Labour Day is your day. Labour Day 2014 is also about celebrating how you take care of Toronto. You care, and the residents of this city know it and thank you. You make the lives of our most vulnerable citizens liveable. You make communities liveable. Your work makes this city thrive.
As public sector workers, we see first-hand the effects that city policies have on Toronto’s diverse and ever-growing population. After all, we deliver the public services that are so needed in neighbourhoods across this city.
One of the biggest challenges workers face today, globally and locally here in Toronto’s communities is income inequality. The standard of living of the vast majority of people is either stagnant or in decline. Our middle class is shrinking. Public policy decisions affecting workers have either failed to reduce, or indeed exacerbated this growing gap in income.
Analysis by University of Toronto’s Cities Centre and the United Way of Greater Toronto show inequality in our city has been rising since 1980, with poverty growth concentrating in inner suburban communities. Alarming new data was recently released showing that child poverty has reached crisis levels in some neighbourhoods. There is a consensus now that poverty in our city is strongly linked to a rise in unstable and low-wage jobs.
It is important to recognize the role that trade unions and collective bargaining play in countering income inequality by creating stable jobs that build families and communities. The vast majority of us are workers, and our right to collectively negotiate the conditions of our work must be respected. It’s also important to recognize that public policy can make a difference, and that politicians can make policy decisions to counter income inequality and invest in Toronto’s communities.
Being in a union as strong as CUPE Local 79 gives us a powerful voice to change the direction of our governments. Labour Day reminds us that together, unions are powerful. Let’s use that power, and the knowledge we have about the policies that affect our city, to make the lives of the majority in this city better.”
— Tim Maguire
President, CUPE Local 79