I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself when I saw our record high membership numbers last month and thought of those naysayers and elitists from the right and big business who have been saying for decades that the labour movement is declining and one day unions will be a thing of the past.
OPSEU’s membership has soared to 170,000, nearly double what it was in 2007. That tells me that reports of the imminent demise of unions have been wildly exaggerated.
London ambulance logistics technicians. Education support workers from Peel Region. LifeLabs workers from Toronto and Oshawa. These are some of the newest members of OPSEU who recently took a step forward for themselves and their future by joining forces this summer.
This has been an unsettling year for Ontario’s labour force. Workers have faced threats to their safety and job security due to COVID-19 and an uncertain economy. Non-unionized workers who lacked the protection of a union, including younger workers, recent immigrants, and women, were hit the hardest.
Workers who aren’t in unions are realizing the potential power that they have when they join together. They are realizing that the support and protection of a union is important to make sure that their voices are heard, in tough times and in good times too.
Members of smaller unions understand the powerhouse that is OPSEU. We have more clout. We have influence. We have the ear of politicians and employers. We have power. And we wield that power for the good: to get things done for front-line workers.
OPSEU has worked closely with the government and employers since this pandemic began because it was the right thing to do. We’ve fought for our members’ health and safety and set examples of how a responsible employer takes care of its own workers. We’ve focused on long-term solutions in our members’ workplaces rather than quick fixes, to ensure there is protection for as long as the crisis continues.
That’s why working folks are flocking to us, even during a pandemic when you’d think that organizing workplaces would be next to impossible.
It’s a testament to our commitment and our leadership. When OPSEU speaks, people listen. More than that, they act. It makes me proud that OPSEU remains the smart choice for workers. And that is why we are Ontario’s union. Then. Now. Always
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida