Today is Labour Day.
The group I spoke to last night paraded in Port Elgin this morning. They will partake of a well-deserved BBQ this afternoon.
I have been a member of CUPE, the OSSTF and grew up as the child of the CAW. I know that my life was the better for that.
So a deep bow of gratitude to all of you…and especially to UNIFOR who honours me by sharing their work with me. I offer this poem, one of my favourites, by Marge Piercy… I can think of no better way to honour them and the others who work to improve life’s quality through their participation and service in a trade union than to keep these hard won rights and privileges in front of people; vigilance is always our duty.
The people I love the best jump into work head first without dallying in the shallows and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight. They seem to become natives of that element, the black sleek heads of seals bouncing like half submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart, who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience, who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward, who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge in the task, who go into the fields to harvest and work in a row and pass the bags along, who stand in the line and haul in their places, who are not parlor generals and field deserters but move in a common rhythm when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud. Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust. But the thing worth doing well done has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident. Greek amphoras for wine or oil, Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums but you know they were made to be used. The pitcher cries for water to carry and a person for work that is real.
“To be of use” by Marge Piercy © 1973, 1982. From Circles on the Water © 1982 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and Middlemarsh, Inc.