This is the real challenge for unions – to reach out to precariously employed, low-wage, part-time and temporary workers, including those new to Canada and those who participate in migrant work programs. There are vast legions of workers stuck in the same situation and it is this diverse group that is most in need of help. When we look back years from now, I believe the worth of unions will be measured against our success in organizing and improving the lives of these precarious workers.
However great, I know we’re up to the task. There is much cause for hope and excitement. The CAW and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union (CEP) are planning to take the dramatic action of combining forces to take on this and other challenges within today’s economy. Already the CAW has voted to join with the CEP to form a new union. One final vote is needed - delegates to the CEP Convention will cast their ballot in October.
As unions, we must innovate. Organizations like unions are living entities, moving and shifting as need be. This shift that we’re now making is a profound one, a dramatic one and a thrilling one. Workers of any origin or status will soon have the unhindered choice to join a union – I’m confident that thousands will.