Young workers getting organized with the Fight for $15 and Fairness
For almost six months, the Toronto Young Workers' Network (TYWN) has been building a network of union and non-union workers. The idea materialized during the 2015 federal election, when many were turning to youth and students to mobilize against Harper and to get out the vote. While electoral politics is one avenue for activating young people, after the election the network asked: what’s next?
Every month, the TYWN invites young workers from Toronto and York Region Labour Council (TYRLC) affiliates and non-union workers to discuss the next actions of the network. During the winter months, the TYWN held their first public event: a social that brought together more than 60 people to get active. As the winter pressed on, many members were also involved with the Fight for $15 and Fairness, which was gearing up for a pan-Canadian Day of Action on April 15, a natural fit for the network to plug into.
Since then, the network has organized two major spaces to participate in the Day of Action. One week beforehand, an outreach blitz engaged the public about the campaign and invited people to join on April 15. Then, as part of the Day of Action, the network hosted a march for which two giant banners had been hand-crafted by members. Young workers and students took over University avenue chanting “What’s outrageous? Poverty wages!” and demanding a $15 minimum wage. When they arrived at the Ministry of Labour to join the larger Toronto rally, their fighting spirit lifted the energy of the entire crowd which numbered over a thousand.
The Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign calls for an increased minimum wage, but also has other demands including paid sick days, fair scheduling, and fairer rules to join unions. The time to make these demands is now since the Ontario government is currently reviewing employment and labour law. The appetite for taking action and being connected to other young workers speaks to the interest that exists among young people for social justice activism and being part of a working class movement.
The task ahead is to channel this energy towards growing a network of young workers who can be activists and leaders in their own unions, or are interested in bringing their non-union workplace into the labour movement. By working on campaigns such as the Fight for $15 and Fairness, the TYWN can offer a space to hang out, support each other, build skills, and grow the movement across the city. Stay tuned for upcoming actions!
The Toronto Young Workers' Network meets every month before the Toronto and York Region Labour Council delegates meeting at 5:30 at the OFL Building. This article was originally published in Labour Action magazine.
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From the ashes of Fort McMurray comes the hope for a better world
It’s impossible to remain insensitive in the face of the generosity that has poured into Fort McMurray following last week’s devastating fire that caused the evacuation of the entire city. From Syrian refugees lending a helping hand, to individual and institutional donations, to solidarity events being held across the country, everyone has felt a connection and a need to provide for those affected by the fire.
While times of crisis make the need for support so much more pressing, what happens when the dust settles? Must we wait for times of crisis to show our support for each other, to express generosity and solidarity when people need it most? While people come together in times of crisis, capitalism gets away with continuing to under-fund governments' capacity to react to crises and protect its citizens on an ongoing basis.
It’s a wish – a simple thought to fuel our struggles – that out of the ashes of Fort McMurray new growth for a world where communities are supported year-long, where people have what they need to be able to tend to the needs of themselves and those around them.
- As discussed a few weeks ago right here on Left Noise - a video has been made for “Bring PMAA Back” - the song featured on the Black Lives Matter mixtape about a unionization drive at San Romanoway Revitalization Association:
- The Guardian is calling Anohni’s new album the most profound protest record in decades. Also, check out her new video for “Drone Bomb Me”.
- In honour of Radiohead’s new album A Moon Shaped Pool, here is a serious take on the politics of the band over the years:
- It is fair to say this new video with Edward Snowden and Jean Michel Jarre is a bit odd - fast-forward to 1:50 to hear Snowden pontificate:
- Finally, check out M.I.A.’s video for her new song Borders about the refugee crisis. M.I.A. is right - what is up with that?