Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Union Movement Online

You know that you're part of a union, but maybe you haven't figured out yet exactly what that means.  Or maybe you're interested in what unions are all about (or even better, interested in organizing your workplace).  Essentially, unions exist to address the massive power imbalance between employers and employees.  The union is your advocate, and derives its power from collective action.  As the saying goes, "United we stand, divided we fall."

The web is a great resource for gaining an appreciation of the positive role unions are playing around the world.

One place to start is LabourStart.org, an aggregator of union news from around the world.  Another good place is UnionBook, a Facebook-like site for union activists.  Workersactioncentre.org is a Canadian site dedicated to advocating for improved working conditions for people in low-wage and unstable employment. The Workers' Health and Safety Centre (www.whsc.on.ca) is Ontario's worker-based health and safety advocate. For progressive news on all topics, StraightGoods.ca is the place to be, along with its companion sites HarperIndex.ca, and PublicValues.ca.

Another prominent union site for news and information is the Canadian Labour Congress (canadianlabour.ca), which is the umbrella organization for dozens of affiliated unions representing over three million workers across Canada.  The Ontario Federation of Labour (ofl.ca) is Ontario's CLC-affiliated regional umbrella organization.  Some of the larger nation-wide unions, such as CAW, NUPGE, CUPE, and SEIU have comprehensive web sites dealing with far more than ther individual union's issues.

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE.ca) is currently offering free associate membership (associate.nupge.ca) to all workers across Canada, which gives them access to various benefits of union membership.  Pointing non-unionized workers towards NUPGE Associate membership may lead them to further explore the benefits of organizing their workplace.

If you're more of a paper book person than a web researcher, you can order books about the labour movement by visiting the UCS Labor Books online catalog.  There you'll find a wide variety of books including "The Union Member's Complete Guide", "The Bully at Work: Stop being Hurt, Reclaim your Dignity", "Building Powerful Community Organizations", and of course, "A Troublemaker's Handbook".