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Something to celebrate on Labour Day

By Jerry Dias, Unifor National President

TORONTO, Sept. 1, 2013 /CNW/ - Labour Day is a chance to spend time with friends and family one last weekend before summer closes and the rich colours of fall are upon us, to reflect on the good fortune in our lives and the fruits of our labour.

And we have a lot to be grateful for in Canada. We live in a beautiful country, full of good people who believe in caring for one another.

This weekend, I was honoured to be elected president of Unifor, which brought together two great Canadian unions - the Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union.

Canada's largest union in the private sector with more than 300,000 members in every region of Canada and every sector of its economy, Unifor is a reflection of Canadian society, and Canadian values.

I come to this job after 35 years in the labour movement, beginning as a shop steward at the de Havilland Aircraft plant (now Bombardier Aerospace) in 1978. My father, a Guyanese immigrant, worked at that plant too, and was also a committed union activist, while my mother worked in another factory.

I've seen struggles, and I've seen hope. I've seen workers come together in the belief that by joining hands they could make their workplaces and their communities better places - and then I've seen them do just that.

That's what inspires me and that's what Unifor is all about.

We celebrate labour this holiday weekend by giving working people an extra day off to spend with friends and family. After all, it is for friends and family that we labour in the first place. To provide good lives while we raise our children, in the hopes that they will have a secure future and a reason to be optimistic about their lives.

These are basic Canadian values, and they are Unifor values. So it is no coincidence that this new and dynamic union was founded this Labour Day weekend.

As we built the groundwork for Unifor, through an incredible two-year process of grassroots involvement and consultation, we asked our members what kind of a new union they wanted.  And they were very clear.

They want a modern, accountable, democratic and progressive union.  They want us to fight for equality and inclusion.  They want a union that communicates effectively and listens as well as it speaks.

They want a union that is inclusive.  Our members are women, men, white, gay, straight, aboriginal, disabled, workers of colour.  We will be a union that takes its responsibility to fight racism and discrimination.

And that's just the kind of union we're building now.

Unifor will work hand-in-hand with other organizations and other unions, with businesses, with governments and community groups to build good lives and secure jobs for our children.

We will find new ways to organize those who cannot find a voice right now - the unemployed, the non-unionized, young workers who are going from bad job to bad job, the self-employed and anyone else who believes positive change is possible.

Together, we can do this - we can make changes in your workplace that help you in your life and your community, however you define it.

Have a good Labour Day weekend, and know you've got a strong new ally in fulfilling your hopes for the future.

SOURCE Unifor the union