Canada Council delegates discussed the importance of raising the floor for all workers – both through legislative change to increase the minimum wage and through increased unionization.
Anggie Godoy from the Fight for $15 campaign in Los Angeles wowed delegates with stories from the frontline of the fight to increase the minimum wage and improve the working conditions of precarious workers everywhere.
“We need more people to come out and fight for what’s theirs; to fight for what’s right,” said Godoy.
As part of the Fight for $15 campaign, Godoy and her coworkers held two strikes in the fall of 2014. Earlier this year, Godoy participated in a 15-day hunger strike to pressure Los Angeles city council to increase the minimum wage to $15. On the 14th day, she got the mayor’s support, and the minimum wage was raised to $15 in June.
“Because of this wage increase I am able to go to college, something I never thought could happen,” said Godoy, who will study Political Science and Labour.
Godoy showed that workers have to make a difference through collective action, and the impact that work can have for workers.
“The challenge is to unite the workers at the bottom,” said Montreal employment equity activist Hans Marotte. “They’re the workers who keep this country functioning, but are constantly told that unemployment or their poverty status is their fault.”
Marotte implored delegates to continue to put the pressure on governments to raise the floor for precarious workers.
“A good MP, working in isolation, can do nothing,” said Marotte, NDP candidate for Saint-Jean. “Civil society, workers and unions must play an essential role in making these changes.”
Delegates endorsed a recommendation on “raising the floor for low-wage and precarious workers” to push living wage initiatives across the country, prioritize collective bargaining around precarious work; lobby for stronger labour law around non-standard employment and prioritize low-wage sectors in organizing efforts.
“I’m excited to see our union ... standing up for workers who need the most support,” said Local 468 President Jennifer Mestrovic.