·  Statement

A Physically Distant Labour Day in 2020

First off, I want to thank all our members and the workers who have been on the front lines of the pandemic. While this year has certainly thrown us all challenges that we couldn’t have expected, I’ve never been more proud of the resiliency and generosity of Steelworkers.

Right now, when I think about what “solidarity” means to me, I think about how necessary it is for workers’ needs and rights to be at the forefront of rebuilding our economy post-COVID.

This includes continuing to stand behind the push for paid sick days for all, as well as recommitting daily – to tackle racism in all its forms, and in all the ways it shows up in our communities, workplaces and homes. This work will be hard, but doing it will be the only way we can have a truly just, equitable and fair society that works for everyone.

Labour Day is traditionally a celebration: a time to come together with our union family before summer ends and have a great day together while recognizing our labour history, the struggles we’ve been through and the victories we’ve achieved.

This year, Labour Day is going online, in car caravans or at physically distanced picnics.

In District 6, we are mourning the loss of a brother due to COVID-19, one of our members at Impala Platinum mines, northwest of Thunder Bay, who died in April.

In Hamilton, Labour Day means mourning the loss of a brother at National Steel Car on Sept. 2, due to a workplace death. No one should be killed for going to work.

So Labour Day 2020 is also a day for us to gather at a safe distance to remember those who can’t be with us. In both these cases, we send our condolences to the families and work families of those we have lost.

With school about to start, Labour Day is about solidarity with teachers and education workers who are organizing for more funding, training and safe class sizes so our kids, teachers and education workers will be safe when school returns.

Unions are working with activist organizations like $15 and Fairness and our political partner, the NDP, to fight for paid sick days for all so no one has to make an impossible choice between working sick or losing income.

While we can’t march together this Labour Day, let’s renew our solidarity by recommitting to the struggle for workers’ rights and social justice.

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
USW District 6 Director


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