Rising inequality, US anti-union laws crushing organized labour south of the boarder, and the slow unrelenting decline of union density here in Canada has renewed the focus on labour union organizing. The response from the leadership of the movement has been focused – rightly – on changes to law regulating labour unions that make it harder to organize. However, changing labour laws will not undo the slow decline in union density alone. Unions will also have to actually go out and talk to workers, sign them up, establish a local, bargain a first agreement, and enforce those terms.
In Canada, there is a two step process for most workers to form a union. There is a card signing process which acts as a poll asking workers if they want democracy in their workplace. Then, if enough of them do, there is a vote asking those same workers if they want workplace democracy through a union.
With the prospect that the Conservatives could lose this federal election and be replaced by a left-wing NDP government, it is important to start considering the legal changes that should be made to better protect Canadian workers.
For the first time, unions and how they need to mobilise against climate change made it on the list of discussion points at Labor Notes. There is a lot of history to why it took so long to make climate change and green alternatives a priority (spoiler: it has a lot to do with some powerful trades unions being opposed). However, the progressive (and historically correct) position on this is winning across the labour movement and it is now considered an essential struggle by the majority of workers.
Labour, organized into politically active and democratic unions, is essential to the support for all other social justice movements. It is why the Conservative activists in Canada and around the world are so hostile to them. No matter what nonsensical reason right-wingers put forward, their main reason to attack unions is to undermine the most powerful opposition to their regressive agenda.