A Picket Line is a Picket Line
A Modern Reflection on Labour Tactics & Solidarity
As unionized workers we are not strangers to the concepts of picket lines and job actions but few of us have had to walk the line for a fair contract. The biggest enemy of a picket line is low morale, the greatest cure for this is solidarity.
Anybody who has been given warm coffee on a line or even got a honk of support from a commuter knows firsthand how uplifting that is in our fights against unfair employers. We also know that the world of work is changing so rapidly and our tactics seem to be changing at a dizzying pace as we attempt to adjust to this new world that seems bent on seeing all of us grasping for crumbs from the table of the multinational corporations.
Honouring a picket line on the surface means not crossing them that much is easy as most of us have other options or places to take our business to show our solidarity with the workers fighting for a fair deal at their job site. We also need to take these actions into our personal lives and into our conversations with friends, families and hell even strangers!
Currently Co-op refinery workers in Regina who are basically solely responsible for supply gas to Co-op gas bars and their union is trying to use rotating pickets to educate drivers on the issues those workers are facing and encourage them to get their gas elsewhere while they fight for a fair contract. Not only must we respect these lines when they are up but we should also respect them when they are not. Due to the nature of this lock out and resulting job action our solidarity too must adapt to the changing tactics. The refinery is making 3 MILLION a day in profits and demanding roll backs from their workers, this is simply not acceptable and we shouldn’t participate in their attempts to undermine what their workers deserve.
This is an important lesson as we head into the next session of the UCP legislature. It is not a stretch to conceive of picket lines sprouting up all over our province and we will be faced with the decision to support other workers and refuse to cross picket lines as we carry out our day to day activities or to give in and tell their employers that their workers issues aren’t as important as what we want on that day. Honouring all picket lines by locked out or striking workers whether they are up or not is the first and most crucial step we must take in our collective fight. Hopefully the next will result will be all workers joining them as we refuse to work under the unjust conditions being forced on all of us across this country!