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December 15, 2012

I was reading this story about the devastating shooting rampage that left 26 dead in a Connecticut school. And I noticed a pattern.

“A custodian ran around, warning people there was someone with a gun,” the story said.

And I thought: In Canada, that would likely be a CUPE worker.

“A teacher went out to check on the noise, came back in, locked the door and had the children huddle in the corner until police arrive,” a story said.

And I thought: In Ontario, that teacher would likely be an ETFO, OSSTF or OECTA member.

Police, first respondents, and other medical and trauma support staff would represent a range of other unionized members.

And we keep electing public officials who vilify public servants and union members.

Who say ‘let’s outsource’, which is another way of saying ‘let’s pay them less’.

Who try to remove workers’ protection by suggesting the end of the Rand Formula.

Who go after workers’ sick pay, pensions, and job security.

Who try to remove collective bargaining rights long ago secured as a human right.

It’s an effective tactic when unions are presented as omnipotent inhuman entities.

It’s quite another matter once we see the human face of union workers. Connecticut reminds us of that human face.

There are always ‘teachable moments’ in any tragedy or crisis. The obvious is that gun control makes a difference in society.

Less obvious: The people in who are there for us in the midst of crisis; otherwise known as our labour movement.

  1. December 15, 2012 7:51 am

    You are so right, you hit the proverbial nail on the head…

  2. December 18, 2012 12:05 pm

    It is interesting that the first impulse of many in an effort to solve inequality is to reduce the pay and benefits of our neighbours. Our first impulse ought to be to raise the income and benefits of those who fare less well than union members. It’s even more interesting when our second impulse is to exempt those among us who have the most.
    In many ways, these impulses have the effect of widening inequality instead of solving it.

    The usual rejoinder is that there is no money to move the least well off up a few notches. Indeed there is not if the richest among us keep it all.

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