We live in a time when politicians use hate and fear to divide us and distract us from the real problems we face.
It’s both sad and scary how often hate and fear work, both south of our border and even here in Canada. Foreigners are seen as a threat to our way of life because of their race or religion. Immigrants are consistently told that unions are the reason they are unable to get permanent work in public service. Although the current Liberal government may not use the hateful rhetoric of Donald Trump, they refuse to undo policies that divide workers or lead to pay inequality.
More than ever, we need to build partnerships between unions and the most vulnerable workers trapped in precarious jobs. We need to work together to identify the real threats to our economy – corporations and unscrupulous politicians profiting off the misery of others.
That’s why we’ve launched, as part of the We Own It campaign, the Equity Mobilization Team (EMT). It’s a team of three OPSEU members who will engage in labour-community organizing and build partnerships with immigrant and racialized communities. They’ll work to find common ground within these communities, in order to strengthen public services and protect them from privatization.
The EMT will engage racialized community members, community leaders, workers, young workers, precarious workers, social service leaders and providers, and not-for-profit organizations that provide services to immigrants, refugees and other vulnerable community groups. The EMT will establish partnerships with these community groups to address problems plaguing their communities and the services they need or have been receiving.
By establishing meaningful and lasting relationships with these communities, we’ll be better able to stand together for social change that will be achieved through grassroots efforts that push government for policy change.
OPSEU has already partnered with the Workers Action Centre, a worker-based organization that plays a lead role in the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign, to provide training for the EMT organizers, training that focuses on strategic engagement with racialized and immigrant communities.
No longer will employers be able to convince precarious workers that unions are the problem. No longer will workers fall for the lie that a growing racialized and immigrant workforce is a threat to their standard of living.
You will soon be hearing more about this important OPSEU initiative that will strengthen our union and benefit all our members.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union