Category: Brian Charlton

Let Your Vote Count

Canadians value fairness yet we tolerate a basically unfair system to elect our representatives. In BC this autumn we have an opportunity to correct that problem. Between Oct 22 and Nov. 30 there will be a referendum conducted by mail in ballot in which the question is asked, ‘Do you want to change the present past the post electoral system –yes or no?’ If you do want to change it, you have three choices for proportional representation voting systems and you can decide on the one you want.

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The Janus decision

The US Supreme Court ruled on June 27th on the Janus vs. AFSCME case that an Illinois law requiring workers, in a unionized workplace, to pay their ‘fair share’ of union dues, was a violation of ‘free speech’ and so was unconstitutional.  Essentially this makes all public sector jurisdictions in the US governed by “right to work” legislation.

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Quotable History

There are a number of notable quotes around the subject of history.
‘History is written by the victors’- Winston Churchill ‘
There often is an ‘official’ version of history taught in schools and disseminated by the media that is so persuasive most people take it as a fact of life but that does not mean it is the only history out there. It is very difficult to kill an idea or a memory, and as long as a few people carry the alternative narrative within them, it can eventually be brought into the light.

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Affordable Housing Is Possible

Two representatives of the BC Government Employees Union (BCGEU) recently made a presentation to the Labour Council about a project BCGEU has undertaken called “Building an Affordable B.C.” which examines causes of the housing crisis in BC and proposes some concrete ways that we can make housing affordable.  It makes sense that a union would undertake a campaign such as this. Our members don’t become non-members once they leave the job site. The stresses and insecurities they face affect them as workers and as members. Those stresses have a chilling effect on their willingness to speak out or to take action if they are one payment away from losing their home or they can’t make next month’s rent. Also, the collective bargaining process can be distorted if wage increases become the end all and be all and other important issues are relegated to the back burner.

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Makuk – A New Exchange is Needed

I have just finished a book that helped me learn some truths about our shared history here in BC. It is called ‘Makuk- A New History of Aboriginal-White Relations’ by John Lutz , who teaches history at the University of Victoria. Some who attended the 2014 Pacific Northwest Labour History Association conference in Cumberland may remember the excellent presentation he and Wedlidi Speck gave on ‘Aboriginal Coalminers on Vancouver Island.’

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Beans, the Minister and a Favourite Son

On Tuesday, May 1, you can sit down to a plate of bean , coleslaw and cornbread with the Honourable Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, at the 20th Cumberland May Day Bean Dinner, held annually to remember the ‘Big Strike’ of 1912-14. The dinner, which will be held in the Cumberland Cultural Centre, will celebrate the resiliency and pride of the Cumberland coal miners and their families.

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