Political action is any action that brings pressure on political or governmental agencies and/or individuals in order to persuade them to take action.
At no other time in our recent history has the Canadian worker been faced with such hostility from the Conservative Right, be it federal, provincial or municipal governments, self interest groups such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Chamber of Commerce, and Conservative Think-Tanks like the Fraser Institute. The ideology of these groups calls for nothing short of eliminating unions, destroying worker’s rights and erasing the middle class as we know it. In the words of IAM Canadian General Vice President Dave Ritchie, “we either fight these groups now or die.”
“Everything we hold dear as trade unionists is on the block with these people,” explained Ritchie. It starts with your right to belong to a union, a union’s ability to organize, the right to a decent wage, the right to retain your pension, the right to Health and Safety protection, the right to refuse unsafe work, pension eligibility, the right to vote in a federal election and that’s just for starters.
These attacks take many forms such as Bill C-4, the Omnibus Bill, which under the guise of a federal budget buried no fewer than 265 legislative changes. The goal behind the huge budget implementation bill was to limit public debate and consideration. To avoid criticism and responsibility, the government of Stephen Harper resorted to private members bills to bring about radical change to labour law. Bill C-525 would require unions to conduct a certification vote, even when a majority of bargaining unit members has already signed application cards.
If you were born after 1959, you won’t become eligible for Canada Pension until you are 67, not 65. You may ask yourself what is stopping the Harper government from pushing back this age limit even further – nothing unless you stop the Conservatives at the ballot box in 2015! The onus is on you, the everyday average working Canadian to educate one another about this threat.by communicating with each other.
“We’ve got to engage our members and their families on the importance of these issues,” says IAM Political Action Coordinator Gord Falconer. “They have to be aware that the protection given to the labour movement by laws fought for and won by previous generations of working Canadians, are now under attack. We are in “The Fight of Our Lives”.
Since September 2013, Canadian IAM staff has been distributing bulletins to IAM Grand Lodge Representatives (GLR’s), Directing Business Representatives and Business Representatives. To date, seven bulletins called, ‘Fight back’ have been issued. They contain information on impending government legislation, both federal and provincial, which will impact greatly on working Canadians. Our GLR’s and Business Reps use this information when addressing local lodge meetings on the need for political action.
As a result numerous Canadian IAM local lodges have formed political action committees, placed political issues as an agenda item at their monthly meetings resulting in greater membership awareness. IAM staff has addressed the issue at lodge meetings and continue to do so on an ongoing basis.
This is the first time we have asked our members to get directly involved in politics. We want them to become aware that the laws that are being introduced are affecting our working lives and in some cases affecting our livelihood and the livelihood of our families. Unlike the Harper government and its big business allies, we don’t have the deep pockets to fund media promotional campaigns. What we do have is word of mouth: whether it’s a one-on-one conversation over coffee, lunch or before and after work, we want you to talk to your fellow members about the need for political action. Don’t stop there, talk to your neighbours and encourage them to engage their families on political issues that affect working Canadians.
We need a strong workplace, a strong community and a strong society. To accomplish this, we need every one of our members to exercise their democratic right to vote. Vote for workers’ rights and not corporate rights!
You want more information; you need look no further than the IAM national web page. We’ll keep you posted on what the various levels of government are trying to do that will impact on the lives of you and your family.