Union Membership Holds Lifetime Advantage, CLC President says

May 11, 2011, 12:40 PM EST

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Unions and union members must renew their efforts to right misconceptions and poor portrayals of organized labour, urged Canadian Labour Congress President Ken Georgetti in his opening address to the 26th Constitutional Convention.

In many cases, public opinion does not correspond to the many benefits of unionization. "There is a lifetime union advantage - in terms of better wages, benefits and pensions," said Georgetti, to an audience of approximately 2,600 delegates and guests, in downtown Vancouver. In many cases, a unionized job means being able to send one's children to post-secondary school, have retirement security and a have a safer, fairer workplace, he said. It also means anywhere from a 7-14 per cent wage advantage.

He congratulated union members on the success, so far, of the national pension campaign and on building unprecedented broad-based support to double the Canada Pension Plan. "In Canada 1.6 million seniors live on less than $16,000 a year," said Georgetti. When compared internationally, Canadians are way behind on retirement security, he said.

Despite the results of the recent federal election, Georgetti committed to winning an improvement to CPP in this term.

In closing, Georgetti spoke of the old adage "change is inevitable, but progress is optional," in urging union members to get active in their communities and to ramp up their efforts to make a positive shift in the tide of public perception.

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