#millennials-the kids are not all right.

Who are the Millennials? A millennial is anyone born between the early 80’s and the late 90’s – they are a pretty large cohort. Basically, if they’re younger than YOU, they’re millennials. If they’re annoying you, they’re millennials. If you don’t like a style, a trend or a new reality, blame that demographic. Everybody’s doing it. According to the press, they’ve killed the serviette industry and Sears. Really.

Millennials catch hell for just about everything they do or don’t do, buy or choose not to buy. Millennials are scapegoated or mocked almost daily in the media as lazy, vain, celebrity crazed and s­till living with their parents at 30. In fact, they are a socially conscious, diverse and well educated generation, busy challenging the status quo and changing the world in some profound ways.

As workers in their early 20’s to late 30’s, millennials comprise an enormous chunk of the work force. Many struggle to find an entry point into steroid enhanced housing markets, while staggering under crushing student debt. Too many work in jobs that are precarious and poorly paid with few benefits, little security and no hope of a pension. 

The stable union jobs that allowed their parents’ generation to thrive have all but disappeared. The wages that allowed home ownership were the outcome of negotiated collective agreements, but no-one is talking to young people about unions. Organized labour has been so demonized by corporate interests that many union members feel little pride in their membership. As a result, they don’t talk with their kids about the very real advantages of union membership.

Millennials are the first generation who will find it difficult to achieve the same financial stability their parents enjoyed.

In fact, studies have shown that a university educated 30 year old today earns about the same as someone without a degree in 1989, in today’s dollars but of course, the cost of living has skyrocketed.

Few young workers have had much exposure to unions and the bargaining power unionization allows. With many millennials working as interns,  contract labourers or navigating the new “sharing economy”, the idea of collective bargaining seems out of reach. Without it, decent salaries on which to raise a family, buy a home, and save for the future are unlikely.

Millennials starting families are faced with some hard choices. It’s almost impossible to afford daycare for more than one child, but few young families can afford to have one parent stay home – housing costs alone make that choice increasingly difficult. Young workers have some very compelling reasons to join a union and to support the ideals of the labour movement.

Union activism in young workers is in decline, so it’s up to the more seasoned union members to encourage them to look for unionized jobs. Talk to young workers – help them organize their places of work. The loss of good jobs won’t just affect millennials and their children, it will affect every Canadian.

Low wages mean a shrinking tax base, and an ever diminishing ability to fund the services and programs Canadians count on. Canada’s healthcare system will undoubtedly suffer without healthy incomes for this and future generations.

Let’s stop blaming millennials for the real world problems they have inherited. Let’s remember how important unions and union jobs are to communities and families. Let’s support young workers as they try to organize their places of work, and let’s encourage contract workers to find unions that connect and empower free-lance and sharing economy labourers.

You and I Will Keep Each Other Safe

DOM 2014 April 28 is the Day of Mourning; a day we remember & honour workers killed and injured on the job.

According to the Yukon Worker’s Compensation Health and Safety Board, 5 workers were killed on the job in 2014. Since 1984, 58 Yukoners have lost their lives at work.   These workers were mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, friends, and loved ones who died because they were trying to earn a living. Work shouldn’t hurt.

It’s not just workers being killed in jobsite accidents. People develop diseases after years of exposure to harsh chemicals and dangerous substances. Asbestos exposure is one of the main causes of diseases developed by workers. According to Workers’ Compensation Boards from around Canada, asbestos was responsible for 41% of all workplace fatalities in 2013.

You have the right to refuse unsafe work. You have the right to know what substances you are working with and the right to take an active role in keeping your workplace safe. Use your rights to help make workplaces safer and reduce exposure and risk for everyone. The PSAC Health & Safety Committee meets monthly and welcomes all members of YEU & PSAC. Contact the PSAC at 667-2331 to learn more.

On April 28 we come together to remember our brothers and sisters who did not make it home from work. We renew our commitment to safe and healthy workplaces. When you go to work in the morning, you should come home safe and healthy at the end of the day. We need to remember to be watchful and vigilant all year, & not just April 28th when we renew our commitment to all workers.

Please join the annual Day of Mourning Ceremony, Tuesday April 28 2015 at 12:30 pm in the Yukon Government Main Administration Building Lobby. Together we will keep each other safe.

Black candles DOM 2014Day-of-Mourning-circle.ai_

Each black candle represents a Yukon worker who died on the job in 2014.