On this beautiful—if humid—Labour Day weekend, I’d like to take a moment to remind you of this holiday’s significance. As CAUT says in their Labour Day statement, the impact of the labour movement over the years has reached far beyond organized labour, to create a more equitable society for all. Maternity and parental leave, a reasonable workday, decent benefits and pensions, anti-discrimination initiatives—all of these advances were pushed by the labour movement, to the benefit of our entire society. And while faculty associations certainly face problems unique to our sector—particularly around inference with teaching and research—the challenges we confront around growing casualization and the efforts of employers to roll back gains are all-too-familiar across every employment sector.
Certainly it’s good to be aware of these issues. But it’s also good on a day like today to remind ourselves of how far we’ve come. For a light-hearted but pointed overview, take a look at this video What Have the Unions Ever Done for Us? (which seems to have been produced by the Communications Workers Union Australia, but it’s hard to establish this for sure. Warning: there’s a bit of obscenity at the end, so if you’re sensitive about that, you should cut out at 2:00).
And closer to home, last year at this time the Star ran a very nice piece about the local labour context, which I highly recommend and which you can find here: How Toronto’s Labour Day Parade Began.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend, and I look forward to seeing all of you in the coming days as we kick off a new academic year.