Why You Should Care About Unions (Even if you’re not in one.) By Meagan Day and Bhaskar Sunkara Ms. Day is a staff writer at Jacobin, where Mr. Sunkara is editor.

First of all: We should all be celebrating that last night voters in Missouri rejected a right-to-work law by a 2-to-1 margin.

Why? The average person in the United States has essentially zero power in society. That’s why millions have organized into unions over the years. But the slow decline of unionism in the United States should concern you even if you’re not in one.

Unions improve wages, benefits and working conditions for their members. But it’s not just to members’ advantage. Collective bargaining affects pay standards across entire industries, meaning even nonunion workers benefit. Unions also secure legislation that protects all workers, from workplace safety guidelines to a guaranteed weekend. And they reduce gender and racial wage gaps across industries, which contributes to broader equality in society.

Owing largely to a sustained political assault on unions, their memberships have been declining since the mid-20th century — a trend that, not coincidentally, maps neatly onto rising economic inequality and falling wages. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is the latest blow to unions, effectively instituting a nationwide “right-to-work” regime for public-sector unions. Right to work forces unions to represent even those who don’t pay dues or claim membership, discouraging workers from joining and contributing. In short, it kills unions by attrition.


And that’s the goal. A web of right-wing corporate elites, think tanks and foundations bankrolls union-busting campaigns like the one that led to Janus. The mission of the Bradley Foundation, which has pumped millions of dollars into right-to-work advocacy for 15 years, includes supporting “organizations and projects that reduce the size and power of public sector unions.” Internal documents obtained by The Guardian show that one foundation supported by the anti-union Koch brothers expressly endeavors to “cause public-sector unions to experience 5 to 20% declines in membership, costing hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in dues money.”

In the wake of Janus, the labor movement faces a choice: It can passively watch members drift away, or it can return to its roots, renewing a commitment to internal democracy, face-to-face organizing and bold strike action — in other words, do the things to win concessions and actually give people a sense of belonging and purpose in the movement. And American workers should cheer labor on when they take this course — for example, by supporting the ongoing wave of teachers’ strikes — knowing that the fates of union and nonunion workers are inextricable.

This article is part of the Opinion Today newsletter. David Leonhardt, the newsletter’s author, is on a break until Aug. 27. While he’s gone, several outside writers are taking his place. This week’s authors are Meagan Day, a writer for the socialist magazine Jacobin, and Bhaskar Sunkara, the magazine’s editor. You can sign up here to receive the newsletter each weekday.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTOpinion).


OPSEU 276 Strike at Owen Sound Family Health Organization Continues Despite Harassment, Threats and Scabs

The Grey Bruce Labour Council, President Kevin Smith (OSSTF), VP Dave Trumble (PWU) and Unifor Retiree Kathy spent a few hours on the picket line with the OPSEU 276 Members. The OPSEU members have shown outstanding commitment and have been on the line for 12 weeks.

Exercising their charter rights to collectively bargain and be part of a union these members have been subject to verbal abuse by senior FHO staff and Drs. In addition, the FHO has hired private security guards and a security consultant that have demonstrated contempt for the workers while attempting to bully and intimidate them. If the FHO was interested in resolving the dispute they would immediately dismiss the security team and the FHO senior staff who have yelled abuse at the picketers and begin bargaining to end the strike. The cost of the security alone would be more than enough to resolve all outstanding financial issues.

However, having witnessed the behavior of the security staff and the FHO Drs. and senior staff it is clear that the FHO goal is union busting and not fair and equitable collective bargaining. Hiring scabs, using those that the cross the line and having the security staff act as the scab express while attempting to intimidate the workers is clear evidence that union busting is the goal of the FHO.

It is time for the good people of Owen Sound to listen to the workers and ignore the rumours and innuendo associated with this legal and just labour action and take action to make the FHO account for their reprehensible behavior. Lets get these friends and neighbors back to work.

If you can, and you are a patient of the FHO, demand that the FHO stop their behavior and get back to the table.


OPG’s Pickering Nuclear to Operate Until 2024


OPG’s Pickering Nuclear to Operate Until 2024

News provided by

Ontario Power Generation Inc.

15:53 ET

CNSC grants 10-year licence for Pickering

PICKERING, ON, Aug. 8, 2018 /CNW/ – Today, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced its decision to grant a 10-year operating licence for OPG’s Pickering Nuclear Generating Station.

“OPG is very pleased with the CNSC’s decision that will save Ontario’s electricity customers up to $600 million and preserve 7,500 jobs across Ontario,” said Jeff Lyash, OPG’s President and CEO. “Today’s decision reflects our continued investment in Pickering to improve its already strong performance, and the dedication of our staff to nuclear safety and ensuring safe and reliable operations to 2024.”

The licence will be valid from September 1, 2018 until August 31, 2028. The station will operate until the end of 2024, followed by safe storage activities, such as removal of fuel and water, between 2024 and 2028.

OPG applied to the CNSC for a licence renewal in August 2017. From June 25 to June 29 2018, the CNSC held a public hearing in Pickering, Ontario.

Quick facts:

  • Continued safe operations of Pickering Nuclear will help to secure a reliable and efficient supply of low cost, baseload electricity.
  • For two years in a row, Pickering Nuclear has been awarded the highest possible safety rating from federal regulators.
  • OPG has continually invested in the station to keep the units running efficiently.
  • Operating Pickering until 2024 will avoid carbon emissions comparable to taking 3.4 million cars off the road
  • Continued Pickering operations will contribute $12.3 billion to Ontario’s GDP

SOURCE Ontario Power Generation Inc.

For further information: Ontario Power Generation, Media Relations, 416-592-4008 or 1-877-592-4008, Follow us @opg

Related Links


PWU Bulletin, Port Elgin Labour Day Parade, Sept. 3rd, 2018

MB18-078 Port Elgin Labour Day Parade 2018[28410]

Port Elgin Labour Day Parade 2018
The Power Workers’ Union (PWU) is proud to once again be a participating sponsor of the Port Elgin Labour Day Parade and Celebration taking place on September 3rd. Drawing participation from union members from all across the province this parade is the second largest Labour Day Parade in Ontario.
Please contact Labour Day Organizing Committee Member, Doug Bohnert, or any member of the Grey-Bruce Labour Council (gblcpresident@live.ca) if you would like to volunteer to assist with the parade. Volunteer activities may include setting up floats, directing traffic, parade marshalling and other activities normally associated with a parade.
All PWU members are invited to participate in the parade with their friends and family, to assist with parade / float preparations and volunteer for other duties. Participating PWU members will be given a PWU hat and t-shirt (as long as supplies last).
Parade participants and volunteers should arrive at the Home Hardware, north of Port Elgin on Hwy. 21 (Goderich Street) no later than 10:00AM on Sept. 3rd. The parade will proceed along Goderich Street at 11:00AM. To alleviate congestion, some floats and participants will join the parade just north or south of the Home Hardware. Parade marshals will be on hand to provide direction.
The parade will finish at Eugenie Street. A clearly marked bus service, operating at intervals of 30 minutes will bring the participants back and forth to the Unifor Family Education Centre where the celebration will continue after the parade. Lunch will be served at no cost and there will be prize draws and Labour Day speeches from local labour leaders and activists.
Join your fellow PWU members, retirees and family members in Port Elgin’s Labour Day celebration and help make this year’s Labour Day Parade the best ever.
PWU Communications Department

OPSEU Steadiness, strength and discipline: a winning combination


Publication Date

Wednesday, August 1, 2018 – 1:45pm

I’ve heard from many of you this summer about your anxiety about Doug Ford; about what his new government might do and what we, as labour activists, should be doing to respond.

I get it – your instinct may be telling you to fight. We’re all strong labour activists, and I commend you for wanting to channel your concerns into actions. I believe that getting ahead of the curve is important, and I know that some of you would like to take action right away, before we even know what the Conservatives are going to do.

My gut’s telling me that we need to be more strategic in our approach.

The wisdom of the ages teaches us that steadiness often beats eagerness. We know we’ve got a long road ahead; we’ve got to pace ourselves and seize on opportunities strategically. There will be many battles, but we need to focus on winning the war.

We’ve got to remember our fundamental purpose as a union; to protect our members’ jobs, and our province’s precious public services – but that isn’t an overnight job. We’ve got to focus on the long game.

I can assure you, we’re already engaged in dialogue with the new government, and I’ve had a number of meetings with a host of new Cabinet Ministers. Through dialogue, I am hopeful that our union leadership can help to soften any sting to come. But I also know we must prepare for the worst. Early indications are that this new government is more interested in undoing than doing – and that’s not good for anyone.

We must remain patient and focused.

We have to stay disciplined in our pursuit of protecting good jobs and vital public services. We’ve worked hard, but now we must focus on working smart. That means building-up our union locally, and regionally; it means building a united front, and speaking with a unified voice.

That’s why on October 27 I am inviting all local presidents, executive board members, sector and MERC chairs, and equity leaders to OPSEU’s All-Presidents Meeting in Toronto. This will be an important opportunity to discuss our strategic plan for the next four years.

The strength of our unified plan will mark the strength of our union. This is democracy at its finest, and this is how we will win – by combining the shared knowledge and experience of our union’s leadership at all levels.

We will have more information for you in the coming weeks, as we prepare to officially launch the event in early September.

Stay tuned, but most importantly we must all stay focused.

In Solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union

Jul 31, 2018 · Steelworkers Welcome Criminal Charges in Sudbury Worker’s Death



Steelworkers Welcome Criminal Charges in Sudbury Worker’s Death

SUDBURY – The United Steelworkers (USW) welcomes criminal charges against a Sudbury company and its owner in relation to a worker’s death in 2017.

“The criminal investigation and charges validate our union’s campaign for greater enforcement of the Westray amendments to the Criminal Code. We hope the charges will be prosecuted as soon as possible,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“We have lobbied for several years for stronger enforcement of the 2004 Westray Law that was intended to hold corporate directors, executives and managers criminally accountable for workplace death and injury,” Warren said.

Rheal Dionne, 39, an employee of Rainbow Concrete, was killed on Feb. 15, 2017, when a concrete slab fell on the dump truck he was operating, trapping him inside.

Rainbow Concrete owner Boris Naneff has been charged with criminal negligence causing death. The company also faces the same Criminal Code charge.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has laid 12 charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act against Rainbow Concrete, its owners and two supervisors in relation to the fatality.

Rheal Dionne is survived by his wife and their son, as well as his parents. Rheal’s father Julien Dionne is a retired USW member in Sudbury who was a lifelong workplace health and safety activist.

USW Local 6500 in Sudbury has been supporting the Dionne family and has offered representation to the family for the criminal prosecution process. The union also has worked with Sudbury police on awareness and training issues related to the Westray Law.

“We commend the Greater Sudbury Police Service for conducting a criminal investigation into this tragedy and for proceeding with Criminal Code charges,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

“There have been more than 10,000 workplace-related deaths in Canada since the Westray Act was enacted and there have been very few criminal convictions and even fewer jail sentences for employers responsible for these deaths,” Neumann noted.

“Unfortunately, police officers in Canada are still not trained and directed to properly enforce the Westray Law. Our union and many allies across the country will continue with our national campaign to demand that the Westray Law is enforced to the greatest extent possible,” he added.

The USW campaign, Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law, calls on provincial and territorial governments to implement specific measures to ensure greater enforcement of the Westray Law. For details on the campaign, visit www.stopthekilling.ca.

The USW also is calling on the new Government of Ontario to do more to hold companies and their directors accountable for workplace death and injury.

“The Premier and his Attorney General and Labour Minister must initiate protocols and training for prosecutors and law enforcement to ensure enforcement of the Westray Law. These are critical investments that are needed to ensure safe and healthy workplaces in Ontario,” Warren said.

“The Ontario government must step up and enforce the law – for the people.”


For further information:

Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director, 416-243-8792
Sylvia Boyce, USW District 6 Health and Safety Coordinator, 905-741-9830, sboyce@usw.ca
Denis St. Pierre, USW Communications, 416-544-5990, 647-522-1630, dstpierre@usw.ca