We can’t be together this Labour Day
—but we’re still in this togetherBy Paul Faoro
President, CUPE BC
-- Sept 2020
We can’t be together this Labour Day—but we’re still in this together
Day has always been one of my favourite days of the year. As the heat
of summer begins to fade and the chill of fall approaches, Labour Day
offers one more opportunity to get together with friends and family.
And of course it gives working people an opportunity to come together
to reflect on—and celebrate—the progress that unions have made for all
working people. It might sound corny, but community Labour Day events
bring the full spectrum of the union movement together in one place
like no other annual event, and they give us time to appreciate our
I’m going to miss that side of Labour Day this
year, as are we all. COVID-19 obviously means we can’t have big events
this year, but I’m hopeful it won’t stop us from remembering the real
meaning of Labour Day.
The meaning of Labour Day speaks as much
to our collective response to COVID-19 as it does to the traditions of
the labour movement. Our movement is based on the simple principle of
solidarity—if we act to benefit others, we also benefit ourselves.
Following public health guidelines isn’t just to protect ourselves,
it’s to protect people we don’t even know. If that’s not solidarity, I
don’t know what is.
Overall, the pandemic has heightened the importance of public services and the workers who provide them. From the
tremendous leadership and guidance from Provincial Health Officer
Bonnie Henry and her team, to the dedicated, life-saving workers in our
healthcare system, and to the transit workers who kept the system
moving, good public services have helped fight the virus. The pandemic
also shone a bright light on private sector workers whose work often
went unheralded and poorly compensated; grocery store employees,
delivery drivers, and service sector workers, to name just a few.
behalf of our provincial executive board I want to take this
opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 members of CUPE BC for
everything they’ve done to help our province get through this pandemic.
And I want to thank them in advance for all the work they will be doing
to help our province recover and rebuild. We say this a lot in CUPE,
but never has it been more relevant than today: strong public services
build strong communities.
On Labour Day let’s spend some time
remembering the unifying spirit that became so much a part of our lives
in the spring. The success of B.C.’s economic recovery is going to
depend on workers, just as our successful fight against the pandemic
has depended on workers. Whether public or private sector, unionized or
not, it’s workers who will dig us out of this pandemic.
isn’t going to be like any other Labour Day. These times aren’t like
any other. This long weekend, to paraphrase Dr. Henry, be kind, be calm
and be safe—and thank a worker.