Labour Day 2008: Workers need union strength to defend their rights now more than ever - United Steelworkers' Neumann

    TORONTO, Aug. 29 /CNW/ - The rights workers enjoy in 2008 are only as
solid as unions' ability and commitment to fight for them, Ken Neumann, United
Steelworkers' (USW) National Director said today on the eve of the Labour Day
    "Unionized workers cannot be complacent," said Neumann. "We have
accomplished great things since the first labour demonstration in the 19th
Century that put Canadian workers in prison for striking to gain a nine-hour
day. But the legal right of unions to defend workers' rights continues to be
challenged by anti-union forces, which raise the rhetoric that unions exist
only to disrupt business and extract dues from workers' pockets. An entire
consulting industry has grown up around the idea of staying union-free."
    On average, unionized workers in 2008 earn about $5.80 more than
unorganized workers. Unionized workers are also twice as likely to be covered
by medical, dental and life insurance plans, and almost three times as likely
to be a member of a pension plan. Unionized workers are also less likely to be
dismissed because of the grievance procedures available to them
    Neumann said the very fact that there is a Labour Day Weekend is the
direct result of political action by workers to have such recognition of
labour honoured with a day in its name.
    "Labour Day is not some relic from the past," he said. "As long as there
are employers that want to feed their bottom line at the expense of workers'
rights - anywhere in the world - Labour Day will continue to be symbolic of
the role unions like the United Steelworkers continue to fill. And, in a
globalized economy, union strength and unity are needed more than ever."
    North America's biggest Labour Day Parade happens every September in
Toronto, where most of the city's downtown is occupied by floats, banners,
marching bands and tens of thousands of union members.
    "It is a proud day and a reminder to every Canadian of their legal right
to representation and democracy in the workplace," Neumann said. "The union
advantage is one of leverage, balance and the intelligent use of an
independent voice."

For further information:

For further information: CONTACT: Ken Neumann, (416) 487-1571; (416)

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