Sisters, Brothers and Kin,
As we gear up to celebrate Labor Day in the US, and Labour Day/Fete Du Travail in Canada on Monday September 6th, 2021, we look to the past to remember the reason for the season. Similarly, we look to the horizon to see what we may accomplish.
The roots of this day of celebration stem from the international Nine-Hour Movement and the 1872 Toronto Printers Strike, and the Pullman Strike of 1894 in the US Midwest. Both strikes resulted in a fundamental shift of how labor/labour was viewed by employers and laid the foundation for the modern-day labor/labour movement.
Leadership within the labor/labour movement has always been diverse, but we had to fight for it. Women like Mother Jones, Mary Shadd Cary, and Emma Goldman lead the way on solidarity and workers’ rights. Black union members, including the IATSE, were segregated and forced to create their own union Locals, but worked to improve conditions for all. The First Nations and Native Americans soared over the steel construction that built our major city skylines, and Chinese workers hammered the spikes into the railroads that crisscrossed the US and Canada. For many LGBTQ+ workers, a union card has been their only form of employment protection.
There is much left to be done to create a work environment that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. The opponents and obstacles have evolved, but so have we. We strive to create a world where we can all not only survive but thrive. When we work in concert with one another, we can move mountains. “Solidarity forever, the union makes us strong.”
Happy Labor/Labour Day to all of our IATSE union family!
Joyeuse Fête du Travail
IATSE’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee