Union wages benefit all communities: CLC president says much to celebrate on Labour Day

August 29, 2013
OTTAWA ― The President of the Canadian Labour Congress says workers in Canada have much to celebrate on Labour Day because union wages benefit the entire community.

“We believe in the old saying that what we desire for ourselves we wish for all,” says Ken Georgetti. “Many of the benefits first won by unions are enjoyed by all workers today, including fair wages, overtime pay, pensions, workplace safety standards, parental leaves, vacation pay and protection from discrimination and harassment.”

Georgetti says that researchers at the CLC have found that on average unionized workers in Canada earn $4.97 an hour more than do other, non-union workers. “That extra money in the pockets of the country’s 4.67 million unionized employees translates into an added $785.8 million every week paid into the national economy,” he says.

“We found that decent middle class family-supporting wages translate into vibrant communities,” Georgetti adds. “Unionized workers spend their pay cheques close to home. They buy at local businesses and bolster the tax base which, in turn, supports public works, community services and charities. These communities become better places in which to live and work.”

Georgetti says that being in a union is especially important for women and younger workers. Women in Canada who belong to unions earn an average of $6.61 an hour more than do women in non-unionized workplaces. Young workers aged 15 to 29 earn an additional $5.53 an hour if they belong to unions. “That is important as they build lives for themselves, paying off student loans, taking mortgages and starting families,” Georgetti says.

He adds, “We in the labour movement take satisfaction in knowing that we have helped to build a stronger middle class and a more secure economy for everyone in our country. When unions stand up for fairness, they raise the bar for everyone.”

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils.