Hello members of ACTRA Montreal.
We are a union. United for a common purpose. And because there is so much that we may accomplish together – as a union – it is especially disheartening to know that the public and our government’s support of unions has never been lower than it is today. I’m not just talking about our union and our industry. I’m speaking about all unions in every industry in this country.
Now it is impossible to expect every member to agree with every action taken by their union. When decisions are made in the interest of the many, they are not always necessarily to the advantage of the one. We’re not always going to agree and a debate of issues is always healthy. But there is one fact which there is no debating: we are better in a union. We are stronger in a union.
Union members enjoy fixed benefits in a time of great uncertainty for most workers. At a time when employers are seeking to cut costs wherever they can, unionized employees still enjoy RRSP and insurance contributions, as defined in their contracts.
And union members are paid an estimated 15 percent more than their non-unionized counterparts. No one understands better than us the uncertainty of where the next pay cheque may come from. Which is why I am grateful to have a union negotiating for me terms and rates which guarantee a significant wage when I do work.
And what’s more – historically, as unions have improved the benefits for their own members, the effect has rippled through their industries and other industries to help raise wages and improve working conditions of non-union employees. Without unions, NO ONE has vacation pay, or maternity leave or weekends for that matter.
All of which makes it completely unfathomable to comprehend why anyone would support the most recent legislative attacks on unions. You will hear later this afternoon from our National President Ferne Downey about Stephen Harper’s assault on unions and the campaign that we have undertaken to combat the government’s attack. It is important that we succeed because – in no uncertain terms – unions are important.