Labour Day 2013: Let’s talk about fairness

Labour Day 2013: Let’s talk about fairness

Martin O’Hanlon
CWA Canada Director


The biggest challenge I find in talking with people about economic, labour and social justice issues is that they get so blinded by ideology, prejudice and ignorance that they can’t focus on the main issue: what’s fair.

When you strip away the labels, politics and prejudices and ask about core issues of fairness and justice, people of all political persuasions have similar opinions.

For example, most conservatives agree with progressives that workers deserve a decent day’s pay for a decent day’s work.

The trouble is that many people get distracted by destructive appeals to emotion — talk of “lazy” workers, “greedy” unions and over-paid bureaucrats — and are unable to see the biggest threat to society: the huge economic inequality out there.

People are more concerned about what their “lazy” neighbour is earning rather than the fact that some companies and billionaires are raking in obscene profits while failing to pay a decent wage — hello Walmart.

Some would rather see laws that restrict unions and workers than laws that raise wages and guarantee fair working conditions.
The implications for society are huge: wealth becomes concentrated in the hands of the 1%, who keep most of it locked away out of the economy, and people are unhappy in their jobs and their lives.

If wages were raised, much of that money would go to workers who would spend it, providing a huge economic boost. And good working conditions mean happier workers and happier families. I think we all agree that’s better for society.

Until people see the Big Picture, overcome their prejudices and ignore those who attack labour for their own selfish gain, we cannot realize our true economic, social and human potential.

That brings us to Labour Day 2013 and a fresh effort to educate Canadians about the vital role unions play in improving society.

On Labour Day, CWA|SCA Canada is joining with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) to launch labour’s new “together FAIRNESS WORKS” campaign.

We will help engage millions of union members in conversations about how unions have improved their lives and share their stories with Canadians.

Labour Day isn’t just an opportunity to honour workers with a day off. It is a time to reflect on the many contributions labour makes to building a better country.

Unions have brought about many society-changing improvements: the weekend, the 40-hour work week, medicare, overtime, pensions, health and safety laws, on and on. It is thanks to unions that we can spend time with our families, take a sick day off with pay and live a decent life.

It’s not just about all the huge improvements unions have brought about in the past; it’s about defending what we all enjoy as Canadians and continuing to make society better.

That’s why our union is working hard with the CLC to improve the lives of all Canadians, for example by bolstering the Canada Pension Plan, which will help everyone when they retire regardless of whether they are a union member.

Unfortunately, the good and important work unions do is often ignored. Some in business and politics — whether for profit or political gain — falsely blame unions for problems in our society and economy.

That’s why the “together FAIRNESS WORKS” campaign is so essential. It’s vital that everyone understands how much unions contribute to their prosperity, health, income, safety and security.

Have a Happy Labour Day and please tell everyone that “together FAIRNESS WORKS” – because your union makes your life and your community better!

Let’s fight the good fight, together.



Sector Executive Council
August 26, 2013


The public’s right to know is in grave jeopardy as journalists – locally, nationally and globally – face shocking levels of government interference and intimidation.

The recent detention of the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald at Britain’s Heathrow Airport, and the seizure of his laptop, cellphone and other materials, is only the latest high-profile example of authorities’ abuse of power.

In the United States, revelations about federal authorities tracking journalists’ cell phone records and even their movements have had a chilling effect on reporters and potential whistleblowers. A New York Times reporter is being threatened with jail if he refuses to disclose the source of a leak.

In cities across the country, police have become almost brazen in arresting photographers and journalists simply doing their jobs at crime scenes and public protests. In July, a Guild-represented photojournalist in Detroit was arrested for photographing an arrest scene on a public street. She was detained for 6.5 hours and her cell phone, which she was using to take photos, was confiscated. When it was returned, her SIM card was missing.

The United States should be ashamed of the example it is setting for the rest of the world with regard to press freedoms and the public’s right to know. One has to wonder if Britain would have detained David Miranda in the absence of the U.S. campaign to crack down on truth-tellers.

We will not stand by and allow the United States to go further down this dangerous road.  We will redouble our efforts to fight these attacks on freedom, engaging our members, our allies and the public at large.

We will make sure the public fully understands that this fight isn’t about special treatment for journalists, that everyone’s freedoms are under assault.

Print cancellation is a “dose of reality” for Globe subscribers


By Kelly Toughill, Business of Journalism editor

Canadian newspapers gave readers a sharp reminder this week that advertisers – not subscribers – still rule the show in print.

Four Postmedia newspapers and the Globe and Mail cancelled Labour Day publication because of low ad sales, theCanadian Press reportedGlobe and Mail advertisers found out weeks ago about the change, but readers only learned Tuesday that they will not have a paper at the door Monday morning. Globe and Mail publisher and CEO Phillip Crawley said a few readers have complained about the cancellation – and the reason for it.

“Some (readers) have said, ‘Hey, what’s this about you saying it’s lack of advertising?’” Crawley said. “Well I think a dose of reality is not a bad thing. That’s the truth of the situation, so let’s not pretend it’s any other.”

Click here to read the entire story

California newspaper defies industry wisdom to stay alive – and prospers


Orange County Register shocked the crisis-stricken industry with an ambitious experiment. One year later, the paper is celebrating Conventional media wisdom posits several ways for a newspaper to commit suicide. It can drive up costs by multiplying staff and pagination. It can prioritise print over digital. It can erect a hard paywall to seal itself from the internet. click here to read the entire story