On Labour Day we celebrate the many contributions of working people who helped to build Ontario and its economy. By standing together, people in the labour movement have won safer workplaces, decent wages, workplace pensions, drug and dental insurance plans.

It doesn’t stop there. Working together, we have demanded more from the people who hold elected office in our boards, councils and legislatures. That’s how we achieved minimum wages, paid vacation time and public health insurance for everyone. When workers get together and stand up for fairness, we get results.

“When workers get together and stand up for fairness, we get results.”

Advantages and gains

Our researchers at the Canadian Labour Congress have found that on average unionized workers in Ontario earn $6.11 an hour more than non-union workers. That extra money in the pockets of the province’s 1.6 million unionized workers is worth a cumulative $351.6 million more per week that is added to the provincial economy.

This represents a gain for local communities and small businesses, as well as for the individual workers involved because unionized workers spend most or all of their pay cheques close to home. We bolster the community tax base and the donor base of charities. In short, these communities become better places to work and live.

Worker equality

Belonging to a union is especially important for female and younger workers. We have found that in Ontario women who belong to unions earn an average of $7.43 cents an hour more than do women in non-unionized workplaces.

In Canada as a whole, young workers aged 15 to 29 earn an additional $5.53 an hour. But all workers — whether unionized or not — share in what has been won by the labour movement at the bargaining table.

Fairness for all

As union members, we believe in the old saying that what we want for ourselves, we seek for all. That is why, for example, our Congress is working to convince governments to improve Canada Pension Plan benefits.

We want to make sure that every retired Canadian — whether or not they belonged to a union — will receive a livable retirement income from CPP. It can easily be done and it’s only fair.

On this Labour Day we hold our heads high as we salute the contributions of workers and their unions. We have helped to build a stronger and more secure economy for everyone in Ontario.