François Laporte, President, Teamsters Canada

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Labour Day is more than just a break before the start of fall: it is, first and foremost, a time to reflect on the big union battles waged before our time… and those that we are still fighting today. We should also re-member that this holiday has its origins in the struggles of 19th-century workers to institute an eight-hour work day.

More than 100 years later, our organization is still involved in important struggles, specifically in the rail and road transportation industries where the eight-hour day does not, for all intents and purposes, exist. The Teamsters Union is on the front lines of developments in these industries, and is fully aware of the increasing pressure put on workers to be ever more productive and to make their deliveries in record time.

The Teamsters Union has been an advocate for the health and safety of workers and the general public since it was founded in 1903. This is why we are so concerned about managing member fatigue in the transportation industry. We are also greatly troubled by the lay-offs we are seeing in the large rail carriers, and we will be keeping a very close eye on this situation so that we can protect both rail workers and people living near railway tracks.

The Canada Pension Plan and an Increased Minimum Wage

One of the big union victories of 2016 is the improvement made to the Canada Pension Plan. After years of relentless lobbying on the part of the labour movement, the Government of Canada has finally agreed to upgrade this plan.

We have been calling for improvements to the Canadian pension plan for years and I believe that the labour movement can be proud because its efforts will allow many future retirees to enjoy a better quali-ty of life.

Another major union initiative is the minimum wage campaign. The $15 per hour threshold the labour union movement has been demanding for years is just the beginning of a readjustment that will allow the most vulnerable among us to live decently.

All things told, we need to recognize that the labour union movement is still, to this day, the last line of defence for workers. When we look back at how far we’ve come in the last 100 years or so, and look ahead to the battles yet to be fought, it’s clear to me that we’re going to be relevant for a very long time to come.

And on this note, I would like to wish you and your family a happy Labour Day and a great fall season!

François Laporte
Teamsters Canada