Regarding the Telegraph-Journal‘s March 2nd editorial, ‘Is CUPE now a political party?’, unions in Canada have a long and honourable history as activist organizations. ‘Standing Up for Fairness’ is the theme chosen by the Canadian Labour Congress for its 2012 Labour Day statement. CUPE NB’s opposition to the Harper government’s EI changes is completely in line with this mandate.
The newly enacted EI changes involve surprise personal home inspection visits – completely unfair because only certain people get ‘inspected!’ Beyond that, these changes disproportionately and unfairly impact Maritime seasonal workers and their employers. Seasonal employment in natural resource industries and tourism is an established mainstay of year-round commercial activity in our region. By opposing EI changes, CUPE is standing up for unemployed workers, their families and for the communities in which we all live.
CUPE NB further demonstrates its concerns about fairness on the fracking issue. The Alward government has never received a public mandate to proceed with fracking, yet it has made it clear the petroleum industry has government support to continue development of this activity.
CUPE NB has joined with 28 community organizations in this province to tell the Alward government it must immediately stop shale gas development and “commission an independent panel of scientists with no conflict of interest with industry to review the case for a moratorium.” In so doing, CUPE NB is demanding fairness in implementation of this set of government policies.
No matter where you may stand on the fracking issue, everyone must agree that the choice to frack New Brunswick will certainly affect all future generations of New Brunswickers. Is it too much to ask that all New Brunswickers should have full and unimpeded access to all the facts about the risks and benefits of going down this path?
I am not a union member but I say thank goodness for the women and men who work together in CUPE, and their fearless collective voice in speaking up for society as a whole. If invited to dialogue with government on this issue, I am certain CUPE would raise concerns about the many health issues related to fracking, which were identified by the province’s own Chief Medical Officer of Health in October 2012. These are hazards to which both the workers and the surrounding residents will be exposed.
There is nothing illegal about what CUPE NB is doing. If you really think there is, publish another editorial that shows the law that forbids unions to engage in matters of social concern.