Issue #7, September 16, 2011
Thunder Bay pickets ‘greet’ McGuinty on election trail
It took some patience and a bit of sleuthing, but a trio of determined college support pickets managed to confront Premier Dalton McGuinty in Thunder Bay on Thursday outside one of his campaign stops.
Late Wednesday night the three OPSEU members – executive board member Mary Cory, CAAT Support Local 612 mobilizer Elaine Kerr and Mike Fraser of the union’s youth caucus – learned that McGuinty would be making an early Thursday morning campaign stop at the local Bombardier plant. Brandishing placards and their OPSEU flags – and braving against a late summer low temperature of minus-2 — Mary and Elaine arrived at the factory shortly before 8 a.m. hoping to catch a word with the Premier.
Their presence outside the plant gates attracted considerable attention from local police and the Premier’s security detail. One officer approached the pair and enquired how many more pickets were expected to show up.
“We waved our flags and rang our bells and we were certainly noticed by anyone in the vicinity – especially all those security guards that go everywhere the Premier goes,” said sister Mary.
After a three hour vigil, Mary, Elaine and Mike were rewarded for their determination to have a chat with McGuinty. With CAW president Ken Lewenza in tow, the Premier emerged from the Bombardier plant and approached the trio of OPSEU activists.
“We told him we needed him to apply some pressure to get the employer back to the table,” said sister Elaine. “He indicated that he would attempt to get a mediator to the table and make them sit in the room together until their was an agreement.”
Not to let a golden moment like this go wasted, sister Mary also expressed her concerns to the Premier about the wage freeze on public service employees, and brother Mike used the opportunity to remind McGuinty that developmental service workers were conducting a strike vote on Thursday.
To date, the Premier has been silent on the college support strike. On Thursday, thanks to the perseverance of Mary, Elaine and Mike, McGuinty finally broke his silence.
Another donation to support workers strike fund
CAAT Support Local 353 at Durham College received a donation of $4000 on Thursday from their sisters and brothers at CAAT Academic Local 354. On behalf of the entire Local 353 President Ryan White received the donation and passed along heartfelt thanks to Local 354 President Debbie Rautins.
The donations marks the third donation to striking college workers since the job action started on Sept. 1. Earlier donations arrived from academic staff at Humber and George Brown colleges in Toronto.
Planning in full swing for Sept. 20 solidarity rallies
Planning continues for a province-wide Day of Solidarity at colleges across Ontario on Tuesday Sept. 20, organized by local and district labour councils.
On Tuesday, the Ontario Federation of Labour announced that its affiliated local and district labour councils had unanimously agreed to organize demonstrations on behalf of CAAT Support workers at most colleges. Due to scheduling conflicts a handful of labour councils have moved their Day of Solidarity to alternate dates next week.
One of the largest demos will take place at Humber College (Rexdale campus), where the Toronto and York Region Labour Council hopes to draw hundreds of labour supporters to the suburban location to march with our members of Local 563.
Timmins firefighters stoke spirits at Northern & Boréal
Well, at least the snow held off.
On a cold, windy and raw Thursday in Timmins, a small group of local firefighters pitched in with a BBQ sausage luncheon for about 60 members of Local 654 Northern College and campus members of Local 672 Collège Boréal.
“It was a very impressive showing by them,” said Local 654 President Frank Wright. “Our fire fighters are a group who really give back to their community. They know the struggle we’re in for good, full-time jobs.”
A day earlier, NDP MPP Gilles Bisson stopped by the picket line where he handed out bowls of homemade chili and garlic bread.
In between bites, members of Local 654 found the time to compose the following food for thought:
Everybody, have your heard?
Management is so absurd.
They won"t even take a seat
That is why we walk the beat.
Doin’ the Durham shuffle
What do tunes like I Walk The Line, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and Beat It all have in common?
They were all part of the soundtrack Thursday to an impromptu dance party that members of Local 353 staged on the picket line outside Durham College.
“It was a bit cold and windy on the lines here so to warm things ups on Line #2 a few of the members decided to get down and boogie,” said Local 353 President Ryan Way. Thanks to OPSEU staff rep Richard Bradley for capturing the dance-a-thon in photos.
Solidarity to all from Local 353!
OPSEU leaders on the move
OPSEU President Smokey Thomas and V.P / Treasurer Eddy Almeida continue their tours of CAAT Support picket lines today with stops in Thunder Bay, Hamilton and Sarnia.
Brother Smokey is scheduled to meet this morning with pickets at Confederation College in Thunder Bay.
Meanwhile, Brother Eddy has plans to join the Mohawk College Local 241 picket line in his hometown of Hamilton before driving down to Lambton College in Sarnia for some afternoon picketing with members of Local 124. On Thursday he visited the Windsor and Chatham campuses of St. Clair College and the main campus of Fanshawe in London.
From the pages of Facebook …
Facebook has become a hotbed of social media with hundreds of readers posting their thoughts – many supportive, some not so supportive – on the CAAT Support job action and the actions of management and the union.
Here’s an interesting message that was posted earlier today from Bernard Belanger representing CAAT Academic staff at Loyalist College in Belleville.
Last night the faculty union presidents had a conference call to discuss the strike effects at the colleges. It was interesting to hear the different styles of management that are being employed by other colleges for this strike:
one college didn’t send out the Council’s letter advising support staff that they could cross the picket line if they wanted to do so;
one college advised that they didn’t want any support staff to cross the picket line;
managers at many colleges are at their wits end because they are doing support staff work and their own jobs;
some colleges are fully supporting their support staff by sending out food three times /day, allowing them to utilize the grounds for parking and trailer sites.
The overall tone of the conference call suggested that management at most of the colleges are starting to get tired of doing their own work and that of support staff. Many managers have advised faculty that they wished the strike was over or that the two sides get together and resume bargaining. It appears that the strike is having an effect on the system. I hope that faculty will continue to support our friends on the picket line. They are only trying to get a fair settlement and I am certain they would like to get back to work as soon as possible. Let us assist our friends on the picket line by having faculty walk the picket line with them this Friday!
If you are free on Friday (Sept. 16) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., please join me on the support staff picket line (at Loyalist College) to show solidarity with our friends!
Rallies, special events, 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.