Unifor’s Constitution reminds us that we formed our union at a time when corporations and bankers seemed to have limitless power, and when the vast majority of wealth was captured by a small, overprivileged elite. It was a time when hard work and good jobs were no longer enough to make ends meet.
Ten years later, hard work and good jobs continue to not be enough to make ends meet. and in some respects, the situation for the working class is more dire. Inflation, driven by corporate greed, disproportionately affects working class Canadians and members of equity-seeking communities. The consequences of climate change are multiplying in our daily lives, and a comprehensive transition plan that puts workers at the center of changes and decision-making has yet to be implemented. The global situation of working people only worsened during that span.
During the same period of unrest, Unifor demonstrated that by strategically organizing, it could make a difference in the lives of not just its members, but all Canadians. Strategic organizing not only in the traditional trade union use of the word, but by organizing internally for important rounds of negotiations or disputes, organizing in times of crisis around workplace rights that affect all working people, organizing to elevate the standards of working conditions for our members, and of course, organizing new members into our union. Through these efforts, Unifor remained true to its founding principles: when we organize, we win.
Union density is a clear indicator of better living conditions for any country’s middle class and has a direct relationship with lower poverty rates. The union model has proven to be one of the most effective ways to promote equality in modern societies.
Organizing new members must be a top priority, a core function of our day-to-day operations at all levels of our union. Together, we must promote organizing throughout the union; it must become part of all our conferences, meetings, and education programs. Every elected national and local leader, staff member, and union activist must understand that successful organizing is critical to our future.
As Unifor National President, I recommend that Unifor:
- Reaffirm its commitment to the organizing objectives set forth at our founding convention in 2013, making organizing new members a top priority.
- Use the resources allocated by the Constitution to the organizing fund to strengthen and broaden our organizing efforts through the national organizing department and dedicate resources to developing new and unique models while working with local unions to achieve positive results.
- Utilizes innovative tools and strategies for workplace and digital organizing. By modernizing our tactics and expanding our reach, we will become a dynamic organizing force that will be the clear choice for working Canadians.
- Launch an internal process including the union’s leadership, National Executive Board, staff, and local unions to develop recommendations to propel our union into the next 10 years of organizing and building worker power.