It has been a big year for OPSEU.
In the last year, we’ve negotiated new collective agreements covering more than half our membership. Those agreements have included many gains and locked in wage increases for years to come.
The recent five-week strike by college faculty was an incredible display of solidarity. All OPSEU members stood strong with faculty. Their fight was a shot in the arm for contract workers everywhere; the academic freedom language they won in their new contract was a reminder to everyone that if you want a job done right, you must listen to the voices of the workers who do that job.
On other fronts, we’ve organized new members in health care, in social services, and in other sectors. All indications are that we are about to welcome roughly 12,000 new part-time college support staff.
We are building. We are growing. We are getting stronger every day.
When it comes to public policy, no union is doing more than we are.
Our We Own It campaign is leading the fight against privatization and building new support for quality public services for all Ontarians. Public opinion has turned against privatization in the past few years, and our work is one reason why.
This year, our advocacy helped shape Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act. The bill is the biggest change to workplace law in Ontario in more than 20 years. As well as increasing the minimum wage, it makes “equal pay for equal work” the law in Ontario. In time, this will mean wage gains for thousands of OPSEU members who are now underpaid in part-time and contract positions.
We have lobbied for, and won, expanded protections for workers with post-traumatic stress disorder. We have fought for health and safety. We have negotiated post-retirement benefits so members can retire with dignity.
We have helped ensure that, when the sale of cannabis becomes legal in Canada, it will be sold through a public retailer – staffed by OPSEU members – in Ontario.
From health care and social services to Corrections and colleges, we’ve made ourselves heard, and we’ve made a difference in people’s lives. And we will do it again in 2018.
For now, though, it’s a time to rest, reflect, and recharge for the challenges ahead. It’s a time to reach out to friends and family, and count our blessings. It’s a tough world out there, but united by our union, we make it better every day.
The holiday season is a time to be thankful for what we have and generous to those who have not.
On behalf of the entire Executive Board, we wish all our OPSEU members and staff a joyous holiday season and a new year filled with peace, prosperity, and happiness.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, First Vice-President/Treasurer