On June 3, the Fairness Express arrived in Toronto for three busy days in Region 5. From June 3 to 5, the big green bus made stops at Downsview Park, Molson’s Brewery, George Brown College and Scarborough Hospital.
On Tuesday morning, the big green bus stopped at Downsview Park to chat with members from Locals 534, 536, and 542 about the I’m Voting campaign and growing income inequality in Ontario. Executive Board Member and Regional Vice-President Myles Magner was on hand to speak with members and raise awareness for key issues of concern in the upcoming provincial election.
“When we realized the bus would be in Region 5 during the election, we thought it would be a great opportunity to build the profile for our election mobilizing and our effort to get people out to vote” said Magner.
In the afternoon, the bus relocated to the Molson’s Brewery for a barbeque with a couple hundred members of the Canadian Brewery and General Workers Union’s (CUBGW) Local 325. OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas was on hand, and spoke about the importance of solidarity between OPSEU and CUBGW.
“The brewery workers are a great bunch or people. They are honest and hardworking, and they are aware of the challenges faced by working people in this province” said Thomas “we have done a lot of work together in the past, and we hope to continue working together in the future.”
On June 4, the bus spent the day at George Brown College for a solidarity barbeque hosted by the college faculty and college support locals.
At the college, we were provided with another opportunity to speak with young people about their concerns for a future in an increasingly unfriendly economy. Many students and young adults share the same concerns; mounting debt, a slumping job market, and an uncertain future.
One individual we spoke with told us that he was both a student and an employee of the college. Working part-time while attending a post-secondary institution is not new, but the increased cost of tuition and a higher cost of living places a greater financial burden on students. Many are forced to work more hours to get by, and this has an impact on their studies.
On June 5, the big green bus stopped at Scarborough Hospital to chat with members of Locals 575 and 581 about income inequality and the importance of quality public services.
The bus arrived in time for lunch hour, which proved to be the perfect time to speak with dozens of members about their concerns.
“Funding cuts have a real impact on us as workers” said one staff member “my workload consumes my entire day, and sometimes it carries over into the next day. We are understaffed and the pressure on us is increasing. We are struggling to keep up.”
In spite of the serious tone of our discussions, the members were enthusiastic about the bus and its quest to raise awareness about growing income inequality, and the importance of public services.
Beginning June 6, the big green bus will be in Region 6. If you are in the area, please be sure to come down and join the bus!
June 6 – Providence Bay
Bluegrass Festival (Providence Bay Arena)
5 pm to 8 pm
June 7 – Sudbury
OPS BBQ at Holiday Inn
11 am to 2 pm
June 7 – Sudbury
Football Game (Sponsored by OPSEU)
5 pm to 8 pm
June 8 – Timmins
10 pm to 2 pm
Further dates and times will be provided shortly
Meet the Activists
Kinglsey Kwok is president of local 575 and a member of the hospital professional’s division executive. He is a respiratory therapist at Scarborough Hospital and is a member of the greater Toronto area council. Kingsley is chair of the Scarborough Health Coalition and has been a labour activist for 11 years.
Myles Magner is an executive board member and regional vice-president for Region 3.
Vera Tsotsos is president of local 581 and works as support staff at Scarborough Hospital. She has been an OPSEU member for 19 years and an OPSEU activist for 13 years.
For more information on the Fairness Express campaign, please visit NUPGE’s All Together Now website: http://alltogethernow.nupge.ca/
To read the daily bus blog, please visit http://alltogethernow.nupge.ca/fairness-express