Thomas to Wynne: ‘Bargain fairly and you will get a contract’

OPSEU members attend rally, holding up signs that say 'We can do it! Better, cheaper, fairer'
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
7:00 AM to 9:00 AM

Over 800 members converged on Queen’s Park at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning to send a loud message to the Kathleen Wynne Liberals: Spend public dollars on public sector services and public sector workers.

Braving the cold, members began arriving as early as 6 a.m. to set up pickets at the Legislature. Some members from northern locals traveled all night just to make sure they arrived for the early-morning rally.

A samba band opened for an impressive group of public sector labour leaders who spoke to the crowd, including Dave Bulmer, President, The Association of Management, Administrative and Professional Crown Employees of Ontario (AMAPCEO); Fred Hahn, President, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario; Linda Haslam-Stroud, President, Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) ; Ping Wu, President, Professional Engineers Government of Ontario (PEGO); and John Cartwright, President, Toronto & York Region Labour Council.

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OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas sparked the rally by telling the crowd exactly how he felt about the current Ontario government. “I’ve been described as fair, firm and friendly,” Thomas said. “But I’m sure not friendly with Kathleen Wynne and these Liberals.”

Thomas said that the people of Ontario must start demanding answers from this government about the money wasted on private contractors and private companies. He then led a chant with the rally theme “What could you do with 8.2?”, referencing the $8.2 billion the government has either overspent or wasted on privatization. 

Thomas’ message to Wynne was clear, and to the point. “Come to the bargaining table, get all those Draconian concessions off the table, bargain fairly and you will get a contract.”

Thomas also warned Wynne that if she thinks OPSEU members are going to give up and go away quietly, she had better think again. “We didn’t pick this fight,” Thomas said, “but we will damn well finish it!”

The rally concluded with a march around the perimeter of Queen’s Park. Other members split from the group and staged protests at the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services headquarters at 25 Grosvenor St. and the government offices at 900 Bay.

OPSEU represents all frontline Ministry employees who work directly for the Ontario government. The current collective agreement expired Dec. 31, 2014.