Challenges to the Union Movement, Alex Bailey, New Brunswick Union

(Transcription of presentation)

The labour council of unions here in Fredericton, so  I see that there is immense opportunities for the labour movement in all its levels and capacities to come out and support and learn from  and contribute to Occupy , so hopefully tonight I  can to share some of my ideas as to  what the labour council might be able to do, what individual unions might be able to do, but also I like to hear your ideas as to what you hope to achieve, what kind of help you might need.

Before I do  that and focus on the more practical elements  of what next, what to do now, in a real tangible instance, I would like to explore,  in theory  to speak what labour can provide and what the labour movement has achieved over the years, since the legalization of unions. Back when they were illegal, and actually breaking the law by organizing under the name of workers’ rights.

That goes back to the earlier days of capitalism where workers faced exploitation and decided to band together in various forms and over the years learning through the struggle working people men and women and children fought and died to achieve   the rights that we have today. There is a very rich tradition of fight back of globalization among what is today’s labour movement and I think that they are in a unique position to be able to contribute to a general  citizens uprising, and more importantly the unions have resources  they got the money, if we all pooled our money together here tonight, whatever we have got we still wouldn’t  have as much as what potentially one union might have and be able to contribute.  I am hopeful we can start a dialogue about that, so moving to what the labour movement can provide is that on a general level is organization I think that labour has in existence.  Currently a number of networks that we can tap  into to utilizes the resources in a very efficient systematic way  along with what occupy is a attempting to do.

I am suggesting  that in some ways we don’t need to reinvent the wheel by feeling we have this daunting task how we are we going to reach people, how are we going to  try to convince the average working person here in New Brunswick, in Fredericton to come out and have a discussion with the folks here.  Unions have memberships that the ability to send memo’s news updates you name it to the membership encouraging them to come out and support this.  It’s certainly it think is consistent with the message of occupy and the principles behind Occupy are very consistent I think the match up identically with the interests of the labour movement .  I see them one of the same in spite of the fact that at every turn politicians, government and bosses are saying to us that we have to think of ourselves as an individual, and only look out for number one.  As they try to divide us more our reaction is to come together more and organize and get together as communities neighborhoods, I think that is something we should try achieve hand in hand.

Working people who are member of unions are also members of community from which you all come and I think that what going to be really  key is taking that next to try to reach the broader community here, as a labour movement  about this issue and also as an occupy issue,  I like to eventually be talking about the labour movement and Occupy as one in the same, not have to use the word synonymously.

We are fighting the same forces we are addressing the same problems the labour movement as I said is essentially standing up for the working people against work place injustices, social injustices and injustices in the communities, and if I am not mistaking based on the conversation that I heard from the many people who I have been talking too, you’re reacting to the same issues yourselves, whatever the individual issues is you might feel more strongly about  might be the environment for some could be the feminist issues of other woman’s rights, none the less those are all issues of the underclass, the working class or issues that really impact and confront humanity as a whole.

The Idea were are the 99% that statistic is  incredibly accurate even when we imprint it  over the work  place  environment or the community as a whole. The business community is not that large, but that 1 %  that we are talking about    say we are not that 1 %   those 1%   I don’t know very many people who  actually seen the 1%  because they don’t fraternize  they don’t walk down the street of Fredericton , these people are the super ultra-rich they are above the laws, they are CEO’s  of multinational corporations   I rest my case.

if we can show the interest of the general public are in fact that of the 99% people who work for a living then I think will have  be able to achieve something   that is  to say,  the forces that individuals  here  and people here  gathered together as a collective  are reacting to are the same forces that unions have been reacting too for years.  The way that I see that my personal opinion  on that is global capitalism. The manner in which that struggle is fought to change that whether you want reform capitalism or you want to abolish capitalism altogether.  I think  that this is a form in which healthy debate and discussion can occur and what I believe from that what  I really think would be important to see is .

Let me ask the question, has occupy here today  or since you gathered and occupied have  you discussed the potential   of trying to establish a political alternative , the reason that I  asked that is that the labour movement is limited in one  sense,  they are not the government  , we are not the deciders, we are not the people who in the words of George Bush   “the deciders”  where not the people who make the decisions about where the resources go,  we are not the people who decide whether or not we should go to war  we are not the ones who holds the power  even though we are supposed to be, this is supposed to be a democracy we live were we elect the official who is best to represent us .

Last time I check most people are voting strategically for the least hated political power to get into power, its not really about seeing an alternative,, I think it’s a discussion that the more the working people have that discussion   I think the better we are going to be it will have been the next step  to be able to address the problems at another level.   So I am curious to know if folks hear have explored that potential, the question is how do you go from issues that we all feel passionately and strongly about  to moving through education to broaden and try to win people over to supporting the issues that we care about to in fact also potentially simultaneously  asking the question of political parties out there, is this something that you would support.  I am curious to know what the NDP position is on Occupy  it may vary from province to province ,there may be a federal line on that, I admit is something that I haven’t looked at.

I know there are a number of environmental parties,  the green party, I know that there is the communist party of Canada that exist, I am curious to know what they think.   I think what is going to be important is for the group to ask to question if you haven’t asked it   if you haven’t already and I would really love for labour to be  a part of that discussion what is a political alternative .


Sister Ruth Green with the postal workers recently confronted struggles that affected postal workers, there for all of the workers in the country, she will happily speak about in a momentarily.

What I learned from that Struggle, is that the political question has to be front and center as well, is there’s a political expression that occupy would be interested in exploring? Is there a party, is there a potential for a party? If there  is not a party, what about creating a party, is there interest for that. This could bring things to another level .  I don’t necessarily mean has to be a parliamentary party, one that is going to run candidates  in elections and all of that.

There numerous debates on whether or not parliamentary politics are legitimate method of social change, I recognize that, I acknowledge all the different debates and positions, but I just like to leave on that note with that open question, and that again  I make every effort myself to follow these discussions the labour council research available as is,  New Brunswick Union  and other unions in town who visited, and I am hopeful the old expressions if you build it they will come.

The more unions see other unions  involved the more they will want to jump on board as well  because this is something that labour if there is any group that is out there right now that should be supporting  Occupy,  it’s the labour movement I can’t think  of another more appropriate group, anyway thanks for having me.

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3 Responses to Challenges to the Union Movement, Alex Bailey, New Brunswick Union

  1. As an example of some of the work that labour unions can do collaboratively in support of the Occupy Movement, folks may be interested in looking at the website for the Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council (, which is updated in advance of significant events in support of Occupy Nova Scotia as well as on an ongoing basis, as well as video clips from the recent Nova Scotia Federation of Labour Convention ( and for example).

    • Success is on how well we can work as a collective, we all have the common enemy, Solidarity is where it’s at. The inconveniences that one may experience are nominal compared to the gains that are made. Thanks for the excellent post.

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