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​Patchwork of changes to Labour Relations Act falls short for workers, OPSEU says

Scales, gavel, and legal texts

Toronto – Changes to the Ontario Labour Relations Act (OLRA) proposed today by the provincial government are a “patchwork” of ideas that don’t go far enough to make it easier for workers to unionize, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) says.

“Joining a union and taking part in collective bargaining are the two best ways to improve wages and working conditions for any worker who gets a paycheque,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said today. “Unfortunately, the Wynne government is proposing to help some Ontario workers unionize more easily but doing nothing for millions of others.

“This is a mistake that we will urge the government to correct.”

At issue for OPSEU is the government’s proposal to allow “card-check” union certification for workers in temporary help agencies, building services, and home care and community services, but not to extend the same rights to workers in other areas that make up most of the Ontario workforce.

“It is absolutely a good move to empower workers in the chosen sectors to be able to unionize by signing union cards without having to brave the employer intimidation that goes with certification votes,” Thomas said. “But that same logic applies to all workplaces. If it’s a good process for one, it’s a good process for all.”

Thomas said the government’s proposal on successor rights, which allow unionized workers to take their collective agreement with them when their work moves to a new employer, was similarly selective.

“We support extending successor rights to building services workers, but we cannot understand why these same rights would not apply to all workers, for example those who bargain under the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act,” he said. “I find it odd that the government is proposing to give itself the right to extend successor rights to selected workplaces by regulation, rather than simply legislating successor rights for all.”

Thomas said the union would continue to study today’s proposals and discuss them with the government both before and after any legislation to enact them is tabled.

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931