ATU Local 583 – Political Action Committee – Blog

Today we would like to take the opportunity to talk about our Political Action Committee and the usefulness, in fact the necessity, of PACs in general.

The reason Political Action Committees were formed is that Unions, historically, have been the only united body and only organized voice for moving forward on labour’s needs. Whether it’s social needs, our human rights, or fighting for equal pay, if it’s something social, it’s been impacted by political activities. As individuals it’s very difficult to get an organized group such as a political party to focus on singular specific issues. A lot of bright minds have been quoted as saying the only changes that have ever come, have come from organized protests and activities of large groups. Labour and unionized bodies have been the ones that have led that in North America.

A lot of people in the middle of the pack or to the right for many years have used the propaganda that unions have outlived their usefulness. That they’ve served their purpose and gained everything there was to gain for society. But in fact, the minute that labour or organized groups stop talking or stop trying to improve or protect what they’ve gained, that is when those gains start disappearing. In fact, PACs couldn’t be more important in the history of our Local than they are right now with the governments that are in power. Not only is the purpose still there, but it is going to be critical during at least the term of the current government in Alberta. If we don’t stay organized and active during the terms of those groups, then we will look drastically different than we do today. We already look different from how we did yesterday. They are literally attempting to strip the opportunity for our groups, which are the only effective groups, to speak out. Political Action Committees could not be more important

An organized voice can identify what the needs are, what the challenges are, what the risks are to the social good. Once having identified those things, the organized voice will structure a way to approach it as a united front. Without someone leading, there are too many different directions to be taken and it wouldn’t matter how much goodwill you have, you’re not going to be able to carry forward a message. Politicians at municipal, provincial and federal levels will listen to what they believe is an impact on their constituents when they go to the ballot box. Unfortunately, many of them are less concerned about what their policies or their practices do than what it will be perceived as during election day. A Political Action Committee, whether ours or someone else’s, is going to be the most powerful voice going forward for that.

The ATU Local 583 Political Action Committee is involved with our affiliates to increase that voice in those campaigns. In recent months we’ve stepped it up with respect to funding and structuring our own affiliates outside of our specific bargaining unit. By being a direct participant in those groups we are able to influence the direction the larger group of affiliates takes. We are also developing relationships with those likeminded groups and building internally on the activities of our Members, in part by informing them of what our issues are and what the threats are to our workplace and family security. We are also trying to make sure we have as many people active as possible that can voice their concerns and at least have them informed on the impact that different politicians, different Councillors, different MLAs, MPs and parties can have on them. If they support what we are saying then we make sure that they voice those same sentiments. Obviously, there are differing opinions/positions but we want to make sure our Members know what we as a Local believe is the best position to take and who are the best people to reach out to. That is where we will be focusing a lot of our energies over the next few months and the years to come.

Education and information are so important. We want to inform anyone willing to take the time to listen, of any threats to our livelihoods and our welfare and work to improve those things through organization and action. It is important to know where we are being attacked from and to know who is trying to diminish or lessen our quality of life. Those who have similar sentiments are encouraged to speak up with us.

To that end, we invite anyone interested in joining our ATU 583 Political Action Committee to send an email to with your name, employee number and any specific concerns you would like to share.

MM/jr COPE 397

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