Issue #5, September 14, 2011
300 support staff march on management HQ in Toronto
Under brilliant morning sunlight and hoisting a symbolic negotiating “table” at the head of the line, more than 300 college support workers marched on the headquarters of the College Employer Council in downtown Toronto on Tuesday demanding that management return to the bargaining table.
The march and rally attracted support strikers from George Brown, Seneca, Centennial and Humber colleges in Toronto, as well as additional support staff from Mohawk, St. Clair, Durham, Georgian and Niagara colleges, most of whom set off for Toronto in the early hours of the morning for the long journey to the demonstration.
In the end, their efforts paid off as the march wound its way down to the Council’s office at the base of Bay Street, from a starting point less than a kilometre away at the St. James campus of George Brown College on King St. E.
The march and rally slowed traffic on Bay Street and attracted considerable media attention. Many morning newscasts on television and radio led with the CAAT Support demonstration, including CP24 News which videotaped the march from a helicopter overhead.
On their arrival at the Council offices, the demonstrators chanted slogans calling on management negotiators to make good on their promise to return to the bargaining table.
Many of the picket signs reminded motorists and pedestrians that many college presidents have received pay hikes in excess of 60 per cent over the past five years at the same time they cry poverty when bargaining with their own employees.
The protestors heard from a variety of speakers representing the Ontario Federation of Labour, the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, the Ontario Nurses Association, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, and the George Brown College Students Association.
CAAT Support bargaining team chair Rod Bemister was delighted by the enthusiastic turnout and repeated his call for management negotiators to return to the contract table.
“We brought this table down here to make the point that we’re prepared to sit at it until an agreement can be hammered out,” said Bemister, pointing to the symbolic table resting on the sidewalk. “So far, we’re prepared to return, but management won’t.”
Labour councils plan Day of Solidarity across Ontario on Sept. 20
District and local labour councils have unanimously agreed to stage a Day of Solidarity with striking college support workers at every college site in the province on Tuesday Sept. 20.
At a meeting of affiliates of the Ontario Federation of Labour on Monday, representatives agreed to “adopt” a college in their community, or in a nearby community, on Sept. 20 where they will rally the support of local labour groups behind our strike.
“This will be a one day giant show of support by labour everywhere there is a community college,” said John Cartwright, president of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, who attended Monday’s meeting. “It’s all part of our strategy to tell the public that your struggle is the struggle of working people everywhere. We all agree the fight is about good jobs today and good jobs for tomorrow.”
‘Good Jobs’ BBQ rally at Conestoga today
Striking support workers at Conestoga college (Doon campus) will enjoy a noon hour, free BBQ.rally today.
Calling itself the “Good Jobs for Tomorrow” Rally and BBQ, OPSEU Local 238 has invited representatives from other local labour organizations and student groups to address pickets and others who stop by and demonstrate their solidarity with Conestoga support staff.
The Good Jobs BBQ is scheduled for 12 noon to 1 p.m. and takes place at the first drive-in entrance to the campus.
Rallies, demonstrations, BBQs and demonstrations of solidarity are breaking out at CAAT Support campuses everywhere around Ontario. Share the good news with your sisters and brothers across the province. Have your OPSEU staff representative send breaking news, and other information about developments on the picket line to your daily Strike Bulletin. They should send the details to OPSEU communications officer Greg Hamara at email@example.com