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Visions of a Radical Labour Movement

While not often acknowledged by union activists, the labour movement is dangerously close to being an obsolete, even counterproductive vehicle for transformative social change. In many ways, it is the victim of its own success – success in the sense that an established, privileged legal framework for unions now exists, virtually eliminating the possibility that union leaders will fight for much more than security for their memberships. Labour leadership now tends to make appeals to the powerful, particularly the Canadian federal and provincial governments, rather than building worker power from below. But no ruling government of Canada will end precarious work, shut down parasitical corporations, or address some of the fundamental underpinnings of the Canadian state – like the fact that the land we all work on has been illegally expropriated from Indigenous peoples, who continue to be harmed by the same industries that create the conditions for a comfortable, unionized middle class.

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