OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas sent a letter on Dec. 5 to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressing his deep concern over the federal government’s decision to intervene in the dispute between Canada Post and members of CUPW through the use of back to work legislation
December 5, 2018
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, PC, MP
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2
Dear Prime Minister:
I am writing to express my opposition to your government’s use of back-to-work legislation to remove the right to strike from CUPW workers.
As you well know, the right to withdraw labour is a union’s most effective tool to engage the employer in negotiating a collective agreement. In fact, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2015 that the right to strike is protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
When you erased that right with Bill C-89, you attacked not only the 54,000 members who belong to CUPW, but you attacked every unionized worker in this country – millions of hardworking, taxpaying Canadians. Instead of surrendering to the demands of the corporate sector, why did you not use your authority to direct Canada Post CEO Jessica McDonald to start negotiating seriously with CUPW to reach a collective agreement that would be fair to workers and good for the economy?
Prime Minister, your actions in this dispute are, to say the least, ill advised and have the potential of putting your government’s future at risk.You are well aware that labour was instrumental in unseating your predecessor Stephen Harper because of his anti worker agenda. Across Canada, activists targeted vulnerable Conservative ridings – a tactic that handed you a majority government. During the election and since, you have painted yourself as a friend of labour.
With the anti-labour Bill C-89, have you revealed your true convictions when it comes to the rights of Canadian workers? Undermining the right to strike raises questions about your commitment to other fundamental human rights rights – rights that you have trumpeted here and around the world.
Prime Minister, you have a few months to mend fences with Canadian labour if you want its help getting re elected. We hope you are prepared to make Canada a better, fairer place for working people – not a nation at the beck and call of corporate bullies.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union
c: Mike Palecek, National President, CUPW
Larry Brown, President, National Union of Public and General Employees