Sunday, September 4, 2016

Labour Day Post - Joe Hill

Pete Seeger singing the Union Song "Joe Hill"

I started my career as a legal secretary...out of high school.  Working for lawyers for 12 years taught me a lot about the law....and about working in an oppressive environment.  Lawyers want you to dress in expensive clothing for the job but they also want to pay you peanuts.  If you're good at your work...they give you lots of responsibility...you draft legal documents, sign them on behalf of your boss, file them in the court house and even go and serve them on the other law firms down the street.  They still want to pay you peanuts...and because they're lawyers...they know all the angles.

If you voice frustration and talk about ... dare I say it even now...organizing into a union...you're blackballed and "willneverworkinthistownagain".  Luckily for me, I was able to quit my job, go on maternity leave way back then...and never return to my pathetically paid job as a legal secretary...or legal assistant, as I would be called now.  When I was ready to return to the work force...I vowed I would never work in a non-union job again.  Fortunately, I was able to start a new career in the provincial public service.  I was so proud to get my union card.  Over 18 years I worked my way from OA2 (Office Assistant) to front line Child Protection Social Worker.  The Union paid my university course fees to enable me to get my BSW at night, while working full time during the day. 

I am a firm believer and supporter of unions and union rights.  To be able to work in a dignified atmosphere for a just and equal wage...with a mechanism to arbitrate grievances...is the legacy of the original labour organizers like Joe Hill.  So with Labour Day in Canada occurring tomorrow...I wish to salute all the labour union organizers, activists past and present.  You have provided an invaluable service to humanity.

Happy Labour Day!

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