Letter from a Labour Studies Alumnus

My name is Graeme Johnston, I am 29 years old, and began my first term as President of BC Ferry  & Marine Workers’ Union on June 1, 2015. It wasn’t my intention to become a Union President. I was nominated off the floor of Convention by my peers because those around me saw me as capable and knowledgeable, and a lot of credit for that goes to the SFU Labour Studies Program. 

The Labour Studies program gave me the tools to speak about the foundational issues of the labour movement, and helped free my thinking from our society’s latent capitalist world view – particularly that labour is not simply a budget line, but the sum work of individual people who deserve all those things that we wish for our friends, families and ourselves.  That our work, our labour, is an expression of our shared humanity: that we are all in this together is the most important thing you will learn in the Labour Studies program, and likely the most important thing one could learn in all their studies. 

With the rise of conservative governments, blind individualism and unfettered capitalism this lesson of our collective struggle is more important than ever. Through a rich mix of economics, political science and history, SFU’s Labour Studies will teach you how Unions are key proponents of this message, how they pursue it through collective action and principles of social justice, how and why we have moved away from these principles, and how and why we must get back to them.

SFU’s Labour Studies program not only helped open doors for me in my career, but also opened my eyes and mind.  Whether you aspire to be a Union President, a better Unionist, or simply a more engaged and worldly actor in our society, I encourage you take this opportunity to achieve this kind of success.  You do so for the benefit of us all.

Sincerely,

Graeme Johnston,
President, BC Ferry & Marine Workers Union

August, 2015