Marty Warren Statement on Asian Heritage Month

Asian Heritage MonthDear Sisters and Brothers,

In December 2001, the Senate adopted a motion proposed by Senator Vivienne Poy to officially designate May as Asian Heritage Month in Canada. In May 2002, the Government of Canada signed an official declaration to designate May as Asian Heritage Month. As Steelworkers, we celebrate Asian History Month along with our Asian Canadian members in District 6, and all other Asian Canadians in Canada.

While we recognize the contributions Asian Canadian people have provided, we are also aware that there is much more to be done to fight for human rights and equality for everyone. On April 25th this year, The Star newspaper published an editorial highlighting some of the challenges vulnerable workers face in precarious work. Based on a report by the Southeast Asian Canadian Legal Clinic, it emerges that the Ministry of Labour in Ontario fails to protect workers who are immigrants and temporary foreign workers from exploitation. This is particularly true for workers who speak English as a second language and who are more vulnerable to exploitation, not receiving overtime pay, recognition of earned vacation or vacation pay, or minimum wages. While the report of the Southeast Asian Canadian Legal Clinic highlights Chinese workers, similar conditions exist for racialized workers throughout our District.

In the trade union movement in Canada, the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance works as an activist network that puts issues of equality, racism and discrimination in workplaces and unions higher on labour's agenda.  

As equality activists, I call on all Steelworkers to:

  • Join with the Southeast Asian Canadian Labour Alliance to lobby the ministries of labour to immediately improve in their duty to protect workers.
  • Lobby governments in Ontario and the Atlantic Provinces to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.
  • Invite an Asian Canadian activist to your union meeting to talk about Asian heritage in Canada and the current challenges faced by Asian Canadians and other equality seeking groups.
  • Join with other labour and community groups to sponsor an event of celebration for Asian Heritage Month.
  • Create a Human Rights Committee in your union local.

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
Director, District 6


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