Unifor Atlantic Regional Director Lana Payne delivered an inspired address to the 3rd Unifor Constitutional Convention delegates, stressing the importance of fighting back and building solidarity.
“When you consider what’s ahead of us as working-class people – climate change, automation, and right-wing populism – we are going to be tested in new and profound ways,” said Payne. “We can respond with our hearts, with passion and by using the power of our solidarity to win even in the toughest of times.”
As an example of strength in tough times, Payne reflected on the hundreds of Unifor members, staff and leadership who descended on the town of Gander in Newfoundland and Labrador in September and October to support 30 aerospace sector workers who were locked out by their greedy employer.
“It didn’t matter that it was 30 workers, or 300 workers or 3,000; what mattered is that our union, the right to a union, was under attack,” she said. “We sent the strongest of messages to bosses everywhere that we will resist every attempt to try to break us and our union.”
The lock out in Gander played out for as long as it did largely due to weak labour laws, and this is why Unifor demanded stronger protections for workers in the Newfoundland and Labrador election this past Spring.
“That’s why, even when we don’t always get the political outcomes we wish for, that we work for, we must never stop fighting for governments that work for workers,” said Payne. “Even though politics has failed the working class, political decisions affect our working lives and in order to fully defend our members, we can’t sit politics out.”
Payne congratulated the work of activists in New Brunswick during their fall 2018 election and emphasized the importance of member mobilization during the upcoming federal election. With Ontario and Alberta as startling examples of anti-worker governments taking hold across Canada, she said it is more important than ever to push for policies and laws that protect and support workers.
“Friends, as we stare down a vicious assault on trade union freedoms, we must turn every obstacle into an opportunity to build solidarity and to organize and strengthen worker power,” said Payne. “We know what bosses and their political allies want. They want to push us out of politics because they want to run the country as they see fit. Well, this country doesn’t work without workers, and it won’t work without unions.”
Payne is standing for election as Unifor’s National Secretary Treasurer at the convention.
For more details on the incredible work in sectors across the Atlantic and impactful wins at bargaining tables, watch Lana Payne’s full speech.