Toronto Labor Day Parade highlights how Gen Z is revitalizing the labor movement – Toronto


TORONTO — Labor leaders have congratulated the new generation of Canadians entering the workforce on Labor Day Monday, saying the priorities of the youth cohort — combined with changing norms brought about by the COVID pandemic -19 — are doing much to revitalize the country’s labor movement.

Young employees are entering the workforce in large numbers, they said, and offer perspectives and express priorities that often differ from those expressed by older generations.

Some of that fresh energy was on display during Toronto’s Labor Day Parade, which returned to the city’s downtown streets for the first time since the pandemic began.

Singing, horns, drums, pop music and the sounds of bagpipes filled the air in downtown Toronto as hundreds of workers and dozens of unions showed their support for the labor movement.

After speaking at a rally in downtown Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square, Unifor National President Lana Payne said Gen Zers, like her 21-year-old daughter, bring a important new perspective to the labor movement.

The story continues under the ad

« They revitalize us, that’s the reality, » Payne said. « It sends the message that we need to have balance in our lives, we need to be able to have a life outside of work and we need to be able to have dignity and respect in our workplaces. »

Payne said the labor movement is seeing increased growth around the world and unions are encouraged to take on big companies like Amazon, Google and Starbucks because the pandemic has redefined the value of work.

« People started to see that they were valuable to our society and to our economy, and that they weren’t necessarily getting the respect they deserved for this work. »

Read more:

Labor Day 2022: What’s Open and Closed in Toronto

Other labor leaders have suggested that the trend is alive and well in Canada as well.

Bea Bruske, president of the Canadian Labor Congress, said she saw more and more young workers organizing in the workplace and signing union cards.

“I think some of the achievements and milestones of recent times are a renewed interest of workers in taking power in their right to organize in the workplace…to understand that by working in solidarity they can achieve bigger things,” Bruske said. « The pandemic has shown workers that it is. »

The story continues under the ad

According to Payne, the prevalence of such attitudes is illustrated by recent discussions of the so-called « silent shutdown ».

Although definitions vary, Quiet Stop essentially refers to arriving at the right time, completing your assigned tasks, leaving on time, and not taking on extra work outside of your Normal hours. It’s not about slacking off at work, it’s about setting boundaries and preventing burnout.

But Payne argued that silent abandonment is an individual action that won’t solve the problem of unfair workplace conditions in the long run.

« The way you do that is to join a union, have collective power in your workplace, negotiate a collective agreement, make sure your working conditions are better and do it as a collective,” she said. « Because chances are your co-worker feels the same way you do. »

Donovan Ritch, an organizer with the youth worker advocacy group Fightback, said there had been a significant wave of unionized workers in recent months. More than 220 Starbucks stores in the United States have voted to unionize since late last year, and Ritch said the sentiment is spreading in Canada.

« It’s a sign that workers who are unorganized are more supportive of unions than they have been for generations, and many are actively taking steps to organize unions, » he said. -he declares.

Ritch said silent abandonment is also a form of work action, whether workers realize it or not.

The story continues under the ad

“Workers are tired of being exploited, having to work long hours and being forced to do all this extra work without being paid for it,” he said.

« The younger generation doesn’t know much about what unions are and what they can do, but they are learning that they have to act somehow. »

— With files from Nojoud Al Mallees in Ottawa

© 2022 The Canadian Press


Back to top button