Labour Day is a time for all of us to reflect on how working people and our communities are doing. To think about the challenges we face, the battles we’ve fought, and the victories we have won together.

We’ve come through more than a decade of austerity that has resulted in job cuts, frozen wages, working short staffed, doing “more with less,” and with many people having to work multiple jobs.

We know that same austerity agenda has hit our communities as well, with cuts to services, and the cost of selling our publicly owned assets being dumped back on us.

And we’re seeing a resurgence of racism and hate that our parents and grandparents fought against and hoped was gone for good.

But this Labour Day we CAN celebrate…..because

CUPE members have been fighting back. And we’re winning!

We’ve had more strikes over the past year than at any point in our history. Our members are standing up and making gains.

We’re mobilizing to keep and improve our services, not just for our members, but for our families and our communities.

And we’re not fighting back alone. We’re working in coalition with community partners and making a real difference in our collective future.

This year, working with others, we won the largest ever increase to the minimum wage!  This means the lowest paid workers will begin to make $14/hour in January and $15/hour the following year.

And we won a series of labour law improvements, that include equal pay for part-timers doing the same job as full-timers. This will be a huge improvement for hundreds of thousands of Ontario workers, including many of our members, and will begin to stop employers from replacing good full-time jobs with part-time positions.

Bringing up the wages for the lowest paid workers and getting equal pay for part-timers, not only makes their lives better, it helps to stop the slide backwards and puts us on stronger ground to win greater improvements for all workers.

Working directly with community residents and allies we got the government to stop closing local schools and we successfully stopped the sell-off of our public hydro providers in Wasaga Beach, in Guelph and in Toronto.

We filled the Peel Region School Board chambers, successfully stopping Islamophobic haters who had planned to hijack a meeting with their white-supremacist poison. We stood with Black Lives Matter against carding and with the First Nations people of Grassy Narrows to force the government to clean up the mercury in their water.

All across the province, CUPE members are campaigning to protect the public services that make our province safer and fairer for everyone. That’s why we’re leading the fight for a four-hour minimum standard of daily care for seniors living in long-term care.

A key to ensuring a better future is to ensure we give respect to those who came before us. Our aging seniors deserve high-quality care in their final years and together we can make our government do the right thing.

Even in the midst of all the challenges we face, even with all the work that we are engaged in on so many fronts, I hope you can feel as we do, that CUPE Ontario is a force to be reckoned with.

Let’s take Labour Day to celebrate our growing strength – our growing power to make our world a better place for us and for our children.

Be Bold. Be Brave. Demand Better.