·  USW@Work magazine, Spring 2022

Grassroots activists are the strength of our union

Headshot photo of a bearded man wearing glasses and a suit and tie, smiling.As the Steelworkers’ Quebec Director, I seek to exercise my leadership by engaging, supporting, empowering and relying on our union’s activists at all levels, in all regions, in all their diversity.

A trade union’s power does not come from the top of the organization. It is built and manifested at the grassroots level, day-today, by local activists and members, in their workplaces, in collective bargaining, in their commitment to social and political activism in all of our regions.

Encouraging and channelling this energy and commitment at all levels of our union – that’s how I see my role as a Steelworkers leader and District 5 Director.

The challenges we face are many. The labour market has become more fragmented over the past few decades, often threatening worker cohesion and solidarity in our workplaces and society. Employers have attempted to cut costs
and attack full-time permanent jobs by creating more precarious work, turning to agencies and contract workers, student workers, temporary foreign workers, casual employees, etc. We must address this phenomenon, including in
collective bargaining, to defend good jobs and the principle of equal pay for equal work.

For many years now, employers have often been on the offensive in negotiations. Now is the time for the pendulum to swing back, as employers struggle to recruit employees. This is the time to demand wages that protect and improve our purchasing power, pension plans that allow workers to remain long-term in a company, and working conditions that provide
a good work-life balance.

Two men, outdoors in winter. The man on the left, bearded, is wearing a toque and a warm flannel shirt. The man on the right has a beard and is wearing glasses. Crucially, all of us – union leaders, activists and members – have a role to play in raising awareness and persuading all workers of the advantages of being in a union.

The more numerous, active and involved we are in the union movement, the better off all workers will be.

In solidarity,

Dominic Lemieux
District 5 Director

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