Labour Day 2015

On September 7th, 2015, workers throughout Canada will be celebrating Labour Day, a national holiday considered by many to be one of Canada’s most important. Workers across the country will be participating in BBQs, marching in parades, enjoying family events and celebrating the day with friends and family.

Tied closely to Canada’s history, the labour movement has been an integral part of creating the lifestyle of the middle class that most in modern day Canada have come to expect and enjoy. However, life in Canada in the 19th century was not so easy.

With the rise of industrial capitalism and the lure of work, many workers left their farms to find employment in manufacturing, resource extraction or construction. Not all was as good as was promised. Wage exploitation, unsafe and deplorable working conditions, long hours, child labour, job insecurity resulted in workers organising into small unions to protest the employers, but at that time, the government considered unions to be illegal. Some protests became violent clashes with some employers utilizing the local militia to arrest many workers.

This did not stop workers, both within unions and non-union from holding protests for better working conditions. They started to gather in larger groups and created ties with unions in Britain and the US. In 1872, workers in Montreal and Ontario industrial towns rallied to support the nine-hour movement, seeking to shorten workdays from 12 hours to 9 hours, with over 1500 workers walking through the streets. Soon after, the Toronto Typographical Union marched through Toronto’s streets to Queen’s Park, collecting other unions and supporters to total over 10,000 workers.

While observing the strike, Canada’s first Prime Minister John A. MacDonald became aware of the political influence that the workers carried and introduced the Trade Union Act, which legalized and protected unions in Canada.

Known later as the “Nine-Hour Movement”, the historical printer’s strike led to Prime Minister John Thompson declaring Labour Day a national holiday.

While the fight to end precarious work, and improve working conditions for all workers continues, Labour Day remains a reminder and celebration of the power of workers in unions, striving to retain and improve Canada’s middle class.

Happy Labour Day from the Yukon Federation of Labour

Supreme Court Rules in Workers Favour

In the case of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour vs. Saskatchewan, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled today in favour of the “Right to Strike”, citing violation of s.2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The decision, a 5:2 split ensures that the right to strike remains a fundamental freedom and prevention interferes with the rights of public sector employees.

Seasons Greetings and a Safe New Year

As the year 2014 draws to a close, the Yukon Federation of Labour wishes you and your families time to relax and renew this holiday season. All the best for a safe 2015!





Letter Senator Lang Regarding His Vote for Passing Bill C-525

December 19th, 2014

Dear Senator:

RE: Private Member’s Bill C-525

I am writing to you to express my profound disappointment with your choice of vote of support for Bill-525, the Employees Voting Rights Act.

It should be noted that this bill was not brought forth by the Minister of Labour but as Private Member’s bill for which employers and labour groups have stood united against. This bill will change certification and decertification procedures for unionization in the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, and the Public Service Labour Relations Acts. Bill C-525 treads upon the proven democratic process that comes from the balance of employers, labour, and government and the stability of their tripartite consultation. It assumes that there is a need for change within the Canada Labour Code, to which there are already reliable methods to do so.

The Canada Labour Code is a well-respected statute that, as quoted from its own preamble:

“Canadian workers, trade unions and employers recognize and support freedom of association and free collective bargaining as the bases of effective industrial relations for the determination of good working conditions and sound labour-management relations.

A bill such as C-525, which has now completed its journey through the Canadian parliamentary system, is full of errors as brought to light, both in the legislative assembly and the Senate by the many submissions from law firms, employer representatives, and labour organizations.

In a testimony from the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB), Chairperson Elizabeth MacPherson insisted that there have been only two complaints against unions in the 4000 decisions in over ten years.

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) in a news release titled:  “Senate votes to make it harder for Canadians to join a union” within which Hassan Yussuff, President of the CLC, says: “This legislation is really about denying Canadian workers the right to collective bargaining with their employer. It is an invitation to employers to interfere with workers’ democratic right to choose representation, and it will destabilize federal labour relations.”

As workers, we have the right to believe in the Canada Labour Code, that it will work for all included in the tripartite of employers, labour and government and the changes to it will be done in a consultative and consensus process.

To pass the erroneous Bill C-525 into law, without any amendments, Canada’s Senate or the house of “sober second thought” has failed Canadians.


Vikki Quocksister


Yukon Federation of Labour

December 6th, 25 Years Later


December 6th  is the 25th anniversary of one Canada’s most remembered attack on women. the reason we must keep this day in our memories and hearts is that the struggle for women’s rights is far from being over. December 6th marks the 25th anniversary of the murders of women who were training for jobs then usually held by men. At l’ École Polytechnique in Montreal a gunman came into a classroom, demanding all men leave, yelling that he hated feminists, and killed 14 women before turning the gun on himself, leaving Canada shocked and in mourning.

25 years later, in the midst of a lack for an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women, violence to co-workers by co-workers, and reports of sexual harassment in our very own federal government, it looks like things haven’t changed very much for the better.

It is time to stand up and say it’s NOT OKAY!!. We can standup together and take on these abusers by insisting our government leaders create an inquiry. Now!  We can  We can educate our young people to create a better, informed  generation who understand that uninvited sexual harassment is not okay. We can insist  employers take a role and be accountable  in creating a safe workplace with zero tolerance for harassment.

Change can come if we all stand together. Let’s make change so that in 25 more years we can say we made a difference.

Peace to the women who died on December 6, 1989.

In solidarity,

Vikki Quocksister

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Organizing for your community

Yukon Change Makers is an opportunity to learn from some of the best campaigners in Canada. Explore the most effective ways to bring about change, strengthen our collaborative networks, and enhance our community organizing and campaigning skills. This event is designed to grow the capacity for positive social change in our territory. The night will feature speakers from the Broadbent Institute, Upstream, and the Yukon Federation of Labour.

Speakers and facilitators include Graham Mitchell, Mira Oreck, and our own Vikki Quocksister!

There will be a public speaking event on Friday September 19th, followed on Saturday by a day of of workshops and training.

Find out more here

Take Action on Aboriginal Women Crisis, Demand Provincial and Territorial Labour Leaders

(Charlottetown) The presidents of Canada’s provincial labour federations are joining growing demands for government action to address the missing and murdered aboriginal women crisis.

“This is a national emergency and we need action from the federal and provincial governments, right away,” said Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck to a meeting of Canada’s national labour leaders. “Canada is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and the poverty, abuse, and racism faced unfairly by aboriginal women cannot be allowed to continue.”

In May, the RCMP revealed that 1,181 aboriginal women had either been killed or gone missing between 1980 and 2012. In Manitoba, the case is especially alarming where half of the province’s female murder victims over the same time period were aboriginal, according to the RCMP.

“We support the call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, but an inquiry should not be used as an excuse to delay taking immediate action,” said Prince Edward Island Federation of Labour President Carl Pursey, who is chairing a meeting of provincial and territorial labour federation presidents being held alongside the annual Council of the Federation meeting in Charlottetown.

Canada’s premiers met with First Nations organizations today. The federal government has refused repeated requests by opposition parties and provincial leaders for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.


Labour Day and the Importance of Organizing

WHITEHORSE:     For many of us, the Labour Day weekend is a significant marker in the calendar year. It’s the last long weekend of the summer and in many ways, represents the summers end. However, it also bears a greater importance, serving as a reminder of the historic struggles faced by workers, the victories hard won and the sacrifices made along the way.

Canadians can thank members of the Toronto Printer’s Union, circa 1869, who petitioned their employer to reduce their hours and implement a standard 58 hour work week. Their employer, George Brown called the unions demand “absurd” and “unreasonable.” After three years of struggle, the Printers Union went on strike in support of a shorter working week in March of 1872.

Public support for the striking TPU was high and a parade of 10,000 working people marched with them in solidarity through the streets of Toronto. The response by Mr. Brown was to bring in scab workers and file suit against the union, calling their strike a conspiracy, while 24 members of the strike committee were imprisoned under the charge. The government of the day, lead by Sir John A. Macdonald were quick to score a political victory in support of the workers. In June of that year, they passed the Trade Union Act, legalizing union activity and freeing the imprisoned strike committee. Following the 1872 strike of the TPU, nearly all union demands included the 58 hour work week (which has since been further reduced to 40 hours, thanks to collective union efforts).

In addition to the shorter work week, the actions of the TPU also poured the foundations for what would become the Labour Day National Holiday. The success of the strike was celebrated annually in Toronto and during one such celebration, American labour activist Peter J. Mcguire was inspired to hold his own ‘labour day’ celebrations on September the 5th in his hometown of New York City. After more than a decade of pressure, in 1894, the government of Sir John Thompson declared Labour Day to be national holiday. Parades in celebration of the new holiday and in support of labour sprung up across the country, immortalizing the historic struggles of the Toronto Printers Union that ultimately benefitted workers nationwide.

So whether you’re spending the holidays out of town, or just relaxing in the yard, take a few moments to reflect on the history of working people in Canada. Think about just how far we have come, and how many struggles lay ahead.


In Solidarity,


Vikki Quocksister


Yukon Federation of Labour

Annual Day of Mourning

April 24, 2014


Community to mourn workers killed or injured on the job in 2013

 WHITEHORSE: On Monday, the community will gather to remember more than 58 Yukoners killed on the job since 1984, including three who died in 2013.

The Day of Mourning ceremony will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Monday.

“This ceremony gives the community a chance to grieve and support those who have been injured in the course of doing their work,” said Joy Waters, President and CEO of the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board. “While the culture of safety is strengthening, there are still far too many employers and workers who see safe-work practices as a hassle or a drain on productivity. They fail to realize trimming five minutes from a particular job could cost someone their life.”

Last year, in addition to three workplace deaths, 974 Yukoners were injured seriously enough to need time off work for their recovery.

“Too many people have died,” said Vikki Quocksister, President of the Yukon Federation of Labour. “Yukon families have lost far too many loved ones. We want safer work environments so there will be no need to light black candles during the annual Day of Mourning ceremony.”

Monday’s annual Day of Mourning ceremony will be held at the Yukon Government Main Building at 12:30 p.m.


WHITEHORSE – President Vikki Quocksister of the Yukon Federation of Labour (YFL) pledged to campaign against Canada Post’s decision to cut home delivery services today.

Quocksister said the move would not only hurt local letter carriers, but would also impact seniors and those with disabilities in the Downtown, Hillcrest, Porter Creek, Riverdale and Crestview neighbourhoods of Whitehorse.
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