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OPSEU supports Unifor with boots on the ground in Saskatchewan

Ed Arvelin in Saskatchewant UNIFOR rally

In an act of solidarity with locked out workers of Regina’s Co-op Refinery Complex, OPSEU’s executive board has unanimously agreed to send members to Saskatchewan.

The action is in response to the arrest of Unifor national president, Jerry Dias, who was illegally taken into custody Monday after joining a picket line established by members of Unifor Local 594.

“The huge response by OPSEU members to rush to the side of their brothers and sisters in Saskatchewan is heartwarming,” says OPSEU president, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, who left for Regina on Tuesday. “This is what solidarity is all about. The Canadian labour movement, which has deep roots in Saskatchewan, is united, strong, and ready to fight for what’s right.”

Unifor Local 594 has been locked out since early December after bargaining broke down over the issue of pensions. Tensions got hotter this week when Dias was arrested on the picket line by Regina Police Services. 

OPSEU members, which included regional vice presidents, began joining President Thomas on January 22.

“No matter if you are in Saskatchewan, Ontario or any other part of the country, Canada’s labour movement is always ready to unite to help workers everywhere,” says OPSEU Region 7 vice president, Ed Arvelin, also in Regina.

How long will we be here, he was asked? “One day longer, one day stronger,” he answered, repeating a slogan created by the locked out workers earlier in the dispute.