Happy Labour Day

A day for working people around the world

Black lawyer, feminist, and activist Florynce Kennedy once advised, “Don’t agonize, organize!”

Kennedy’s quote is powerful, in its simplicity. It gets straight to the point and focuses not only on what can be done, but what we can do by working together.

It’s a quote we have been thinking about as we’ve neared this year’s Labour Day. There has certainly been more than enough to agonize over in recent years.

Neither of us can recall a more difficult time for working people in our combined decades of involvement with the labour movement. Our members have been on the frontlines of an unprecedented global pandemic.

It’s been a health crisis that 401 members have felt acutely. Outbreaks occurred in workplaces that our members entered every day. Heartbreakingly, some of our members did not make it home.

But even as we mourned, Local 401 union members knew they had to harness their grief and anger to affect change.

No victory was ever enough to account for the loss of our friends. But we stayed true to Florynce Kennedy’s advice and turned our agony into organizing by standing together as one strong team throughout the pandemic.

Today, workers across the world face a new challenge with skyrocketing inflation. If the past two years were marked by a global health pandemic, it seems that the next two may be marked by a global economic pandemic.

As we push employers to reach into their profits and do the right thing by paying their employees more, we are reminded of a different Florynce Kennedy quote, “The biggest sin is sitting on your ass.”

Access to health care, gas prices that make driving impossible, affordable childcare, off-the-charts grocery bills, workplace safety, corporate price gouging, and out of control utility bills. These issues affect all of us and they have one thing in common – they are all impacted by political decisions.

We have an election next year and who you vote for matters. Will the next Government of Alberta care about the issues facing working people? That is a question we can all play a role in answering.

This Labour Day let’s agree that nothing is won by sitting around and agonizing over the state of politics and our world. Instead, let’s get up and work together to improve things by voting for better workplaces and a better world.

In solidarity,
Thomas Hesse, President
Richelle Stewart, Secretary Treasurer
UFCW Local 401