It’s likely been a busy summer for most of you but I hope you’ve had some time to rest and spend time with family and friends while enjoying the season. Whether you relaxed over a backyard barbecue, headed out for a few days of fishing at a favourite lake or ventured further afield on a vacation, I think we can all agree that our province is filled with beautiful natural landscapes, creative people and interesting activities for all ages to enjoy.
Although many staff and elected leaders have taken some time off this summer, we remain busy representing you at the negotiating table or providing advice and support when you run into problems in the workplace. We’re also involved in several ongoing activities such as a corrections campaign, an anti-privatization campaign focused on information technology services in government, revamping and expanding some of our educational resources for members and stewards, and public relations through billboards and advertising. Several new initiatives are under development and will be launched in the fall and winter.
I’m also proud that we will be hosting the first ever SGEU Young Workers Forum in the late fall and a number of additional Leadership Development courses have been added to our calendar due to increased interest from members. Sector and Local meetings will start up again in September and I hope you make an effort to attend and get involved so that your views and priorities are part of the conversation.
An important day is quickly approaching for those of us involved in the labour movement; Labour Day falls on September 2 this year. I hope most of you will be able to participate in some of the free picnics and barbecues being sponsored by various labour councils and unions around the province. These events are a good opportunity to gather with friends, colleagues and families to enjoy a hotdog or some watermelon; watch your kids enjoy some games, bouncy castles and face-painting; and celebrate the end of summer.
On Labour Day, it’s also important to recognize what the collective efforts of working people have accomplished. The list is long and includes such things as fair wages, parental leave, vacation pay, protection from harassment and discrimination and workplace health and safety standards. Fortunately, over the years, unions fought for and won these rights for their members, but they now apply to most non-union workers as well. It’s easy to take some of these things for granted; after all, many have been in place for decades. But, we can’t become complacent because some employers and governments are determined to erode these rights for the sake of profit and cost-savings. The collective voice of workers standing together in a union is one of the strongest and most effective ways to achieve success. And, there’s more that we can and should be fighting for, not only in our workplace but in our communities, including environmental action, social justice issues, poverty reduction, equality and respect for all.
I’m committed to carry on the fight on behalf of you and the 20,000-plus members of SGEU. My door is always open if you have questions or suggestions. You can reach me by email at email@example.com or by phone at 306-775-7219.
Enjoy the nice weather as we head into the fall!
Bob Bymoen, President