They sign up new members, they organize picket lines and demonstrations, they conduct high school classes in labour rights and workplace safety, and they cook meals for fundraising events to send young workers on solidarity trips to Cuba, South Africa and Central America. One even came back from a vacation in Las Vegas with a tattoo declaring their commitment to the cause. (You’ll find out where in a minute.)
A new generation of Canadian union activists are cheerfully working overtime to educate others their age about workers’ rights and on the job safety issues, organize progressive political events and build up membership in their unions. In B.C., many of these keen new organizers are associated with the Young Workers’ Committees of the Vancouver and District Labour Council and the BC Federation of Labour.
Young workers are emerging as an important cohort of organizers, educators and activists within the labour movement. They will be the ones who contend with the multiple future challenges facing a movement that has lost some of its strength over the last decades as anti-union legislation has been actively promoted across North America and anti-union views have been regularly dispensed by a well-funded network of right-wing think tanks like the Fraser Institute and by mass media outlets far more sympathetic to management than to labour.