Taking a very timely initiative, thirteen labour council presidents have signed an open letter calling for the theme of Labour Day 2019 to be #UniteAgainstRacism. Released by the Migrant Rights Network (MRN) as part of their ongoing anti-racism campaign, the letter calls for the labour movement to endorse the campaign by making #UniteAgainstRacism the theme for Labour Day, and taking part in a national day of action on June 16, with about a dozen local events.
Formed in December 2018, the MRN includes over 50 unions and community groups, pledging to build “a cross-Canada alliance to combat racism and fight for migrant justice”. The thirteen initial signatories on the letter include labour council presidents from Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
This important campaign can play a significant role in resisting the drive by far-right, so-called “populist” forces which seek to inject racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric into the October federal election campaign. With four million members in nearly every community across the country, trade unions are uniquely positioned to fight back against the resurgence of white supremacy and other divisive ideologies, by focusing on the need to unite against economic austerity and to protect all workers in Canada, regardless of our origins and status. This is particularly critical at a time when a “blue wave” of Conservative election victories has emerged, and as the extremist anti-immigrant, misogynist and transphobic “People’s Party” prepares to run candidates in every riding.
Given the current overall weakness of the labour fightback in Canada, it’s refreshing to see labour councils moving into the gap. We encourage readers who are also trade union members to help strengthen this campaign in your communities. Let’s use Labour Day this year to reject the racists and bigots who want to weaken the united power of the working class.