Unions are, by their very nature, political organizations. We advocate for workers’ rights, we fight institutional systems that oppress, and we strive to advance social causes that benefit our society. That means sometimes you might not like what we're doing. That means sometimes our political stance on an issue will make you uncomfortable. That's what societal upheaval feels like.
The Union, any union, is an important agent for social change - that's always has been the case. Our role is often that of agitator and disruptor. We do our best to shine a light on injustice, and we try to encourage discussions that dismantle discriminatory practices, attitudes, and behaviours. We don't choose our issues based on a desire to keep everyone feeling comfortable and undisturbed. If we don't speak up for those who face oppression and systemic discrimination, we're failing our communities.
In the '80s, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers went on strike to demand better maternity leave benefits for its membership, and it was a hard fight. The idea of paid maternity leave was considered greedy and egregious. The women at the heart of the fight made a lot of men very uncomfortable, and the actions angered many in their ranks but it was an important fight. In fact, their success helped create changes fundamental to our Canadian identity. Union dues support the representation that you rely on, help ensure a strong collective agreement and help support the important work unions have always done to build a better, more just society for everyone.
Nothing worthy comes without effort, and you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. If you are offended by the Union's position on racism, on gender equality, on trans rights or any other social issue we fight for, then we're on the right track.
A member recently asked us to please present more opposing views in our publications - to ensure the views of the entire membership are represented in union communications. If you are offended by our anti-racism messaging, the opposing position would be to publish articles supporting racist ideals, and we won't be doing that. If you are looking for articles that comfort you and support systemic racism, you're going to have to look elsewhere.
This has been a year of challenging ideas, difficult conversations, and seismic social shifts. Our work will continue - we will always advocate for a society that is safe and equal. And we will continue to fight for the rights of every union member who needs representation, even those who would prefer us to stop talking about systemic racism. Confronting oppression to encourage a more progressive and just society is almost always met with fierce opposition, but that's no reason to give up.
Yukon Employees’ Union