Social and economic justice for working people

Community News & Features May 9, 2014 at 3:50 pm


ORONTO–The month of May is upon us and with it brings Asian Heritage Month across Canada. As spring shifts quickly towards summer, and as our days get longer, and the sun shines a little brighter, we are provided with a beautiful backdrop to celebrate, remember, and revere the immense contributions of those who originate from Asia, and now call Canada their home.

Asian Heritage Month is far more than an acknowledgment of the shaping of Canadian society by people of Asian heritage. While there is a tremendous amount to be gained from the struggles of Asian Canadian history, we are equally concerned by the current day-to-day battles of working families that remain with us throughout the year. These battles are often greater for people of Asian heritage.

As racialized people who often experience the blunt edge of workplace exclusion, and the sting of subtle and overt racism, the Asian Canadian diaspora collectively continues to deal with a number of struggles.  In the socio-economic realm, we are finding an increasing number of our members having an immense difficulty making Canada their permanent home. This is due to the dramatic and draconian shift in Canadian immigration policy from one that embraced immigrants to one that is based increasingly on the use of easily exploitable, low waged, migrant (or temporary foreign) workers. Many UFCW Canadamembers, and Canadians, of Asian heritage are finding it exceptionally difficult to sponsor parents and loved ones as the federal government continues to decimate meaningful family reunification programs. Immigration policy based on nation-building seem to be a thing of the past as Asian Canadians, as well as other newcomer groups, experience the brutal reality of one of the most anti-immigrant Canadian federal governments in recent memory. These are the types of day-to-day battles many of our members face and that as a union, we are here to support them in.  

As Canada’s most progressive union, with almost one in three of our members across the country being racialized people, and almost 35,000 members being of Asian origin, our membership is certainly one of the most diverse in the country.  

In order to respond, UFCW Canada is working towards being a model organization that is demolishing barriers and building roads towards greater inclusion and diversity. We are rapidly adapting to not only changing workplace environments, but as well, our union is implementing strategies to ensure that all of our members continue to be part of the UFCW Canada family. Across Canada, our local unions work closely with the communities in a variety of innovative initiatives. For instance, our vocal support for Migrante Canada and the class-action lawsuit against Denny’s Restaurants, or the two-decade long strategic advocacy for migrant workers, immigrant communities, and other systemically marginalized groups, continues to put pressure on governments to ensure that working people in Canada demand and receive social and economic justice, and dignity and respect in the workplace.

As spring comes into bloom, UFCW Canada is committed to its long-term strategy of advocating on behalf of all working people, while ensuring that barriers to social and organizational participation of historically marginalized groups, such as people of Asian heritage, become a thing of the past.