For most folks it's the last long weekend of the summer - a time to load up the barbecue, take a nap in the hammock and, most of all, forget about work.
But Labour Day, is, after all, all about work. Work that, in many cases, deserves to be recognized with more pay, better health and safety protections, job security and, last but not least, respect.
Unions have earned their chops fighting for workers' rights for countless years. Labour activists have lost their lives, been vilified for their beliefs, and sacrificed family life to fight the good fight. And, to be sure, some folks recognize that they owe a lot to unions for better working conditions. Even if you ren't a member of a union, you ave benefited from unions. Does anyone actually think that employers would be plumping up the pension fund or adding dental care to non-union employee packages if it weren't for a marketplace that included better paid union workers? The simple threat or vague rumour of having a union certify a workplace is sometimes all that's required to get a company to increase wages.
But times are changing, and we question if workers will be able to avoid clawbacks. With a dwindling union membership in B.C., and more global opportunities for employers, union members are facing a very challenging time.
Unions are much more reluctant to pull the trigger and go on strike nowadays. Barring public sector unions, any union that hits the bricks in today's economy might risk seeing their workplace simply move to another country. Unions are being forced to amalgamate with other unions to survive and, like other organizations, make cuts to services for their members.
Charges of all-powerful unions pulling the strings on politicians ring a lot less true nowadays. It's a lot harder to throw your weight around when you're losing it. But it is still true that there is strength in numbers and power in unity.
Unions still offer the only true voice for workers in an economy that seems hell bent on treating workers as disposable commodities.