WUFA at the Labour Day Parade 2023
WUFA banner spotted at the front of the Labour Day Parade, 2023.
Thank you Brian E. Brown for representing WUFA at the parade!
The article below was taken from CBC.ca on September 7, 2023.
What union members in Windsor are saying on Labour Day
We asked local union members to reflect on the role of unions in 2023
Labour Day has been an statutory public holiday in Canada since 1894.
The origins of the holiday stem from workers' rallies of the Victorian era, and promotes worker solidarity every first Monday in September.
This year, Windsor held a Labour Day parade to celebrate the origins of the holiday. CBC caught up with Windsorites to find out what Labour Day means to them, and what being a union member is like in 2023.
A union family
Debbie Westrop is a janitor at automotive company Stellantis. A long time union member, every worker in Westrop's family is in a union.
Westrop says being part of a union allows you to feel supported.
"The kids have always been raised in a union environment," she said. "It shows you that you have some backing behind you when things aren't that great."
A change of route
Dave Cassidy is the president of Unifor Local 444.
At this year's Labour Day parade the procession decided to walk to Lanspeary Park, where, according to Cassidy, the parade would always go to "back in the day."
There the intention was to give speeches and celebrate labour.
"[Windsor's] still a labour town," Cassidy said. "We're open for business.... All the investments are very big and this will always be a a labour town."
"The unions are there, they negotiate great contracts for the workers."
Connecting with the community
David Petten is president of CUPE Local 543, and he thinks that unions should still play a vital role in local communities.
"Our own wellbeing, our community's wellbeing and labour's wellbeing are all intertwined," he said. "In terms of working conditions, wages and benefits, those are all core issues. Not only in terms of labour groups, but to the community as well."
The Clark resignation
Petten thinks that unions are vital in keeping large corporations from exploiting their workforce and communities in favour of profits.
This morning, Ontario provincial housing minister Steve Clark resigned amid the green belt land swap controversy, where property developers stood to make billions of dollars.
Petten said that his resignation represented a "good start," but more would need to be done.
"I don't think that's where it should end," he remarked. "Here we are where we have rich developers who are going to get much richer because of this government."
"I think Steve Clark is just the start and it has to go all the way up to the Premier's office."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Oliver Thompson is a writer, producer and musician. Originally from the UK, where he worked for the BBC, Oliver moved to Canada in 2018.