FNUC Faculty Member Says Unions Are Inevitable

Monday, December 18, 2006 at 15:11



A faculty member at the First Nations University of Canada feels it’s just a matter of time before native leaders will be forced to accept unions — even on reserves.


Brock Pitawanakwat says First Nations leaders in Saskatchewan have traditionally fought the organization of indigenous labor — most notably when the Canadian Auto Workers won a court battle to represent employees at the SIGA-controlled casino in Prince Albert.


He believes the establishment successfully convinced the workers that joining a union was somehow “un-indigenous”, and that’s why it eventually failed.


He says that argument is preposterous, considering SIGA officials themselves used non-Native institutions to challenge the union.


Pitawanakwat says Aboriginal representation in unions is inevitable, because the Native workforce continues to grow and unions continue to approach Aboriginal workers.


He notes it was union membership that gave former FNUC staff the ability to file grievances related to last year’s controversial dismissals at the school.