What comes to mind when you hear the word “precarious”?
Do you think of a walker on a tightrope? A cup of coffee on the roof of a car?
Or do you think of your job?
The term “precarious work” still isn’t all that common, but the thing it describes is everywhere. If you imagine a “good job” as one with full-time hours, decent pay, benefits, and a pension, precarious work is the opposite. It’s not just that it’s part-time, casual, or temporary work; it usually also comes with low wages and little job security – and no union.
At OPSEU, we’ve been fighting for good jobs – and against precarious work – for a long, long time. In the last decade, we’ve tackled the problem from every angle:
- When the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act barred part-time faculty and support staff from joining a union, we fought to change the law. We’ve been working to organize both groups ever since. It won’t be long until they’re all OPSEU members.
- At the LCBO, we’ve fought back against “tiered” wages for retail workers. We took on the employer at the bargaining table. We took on the employer at the Human Rights Tribunal. And we came away with something we didn’t have before – something better for precarious workers.
- In developmental services – and elsewhere – we’re enforcing pay equity. In correctional services, where “precarious” often means ”dangerous,” we’ve forced government to test-drive real changes to address an ongoing crisis that hurts offenders and staff alike. In health care, and across all OPSEU sectors, we’re battling the biggest job-destroyer of all: privatization.
We’ve fought to change laws. We’ve organized new members. We’ve taken legal action. We’ve pushed hard at the bargaining table. We’ve changed public opinion.
For the last 10 years, we’ve tackled precarious work every way we could. We are making headway. And now, with the introduction of Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, we are about to see millions of Ontario workers benefit from the battles we’ve taken on.
If you or someone you know is walking the tightrope of precarious work, think of OPSEU. We’re more than a safety net – we’re your springboard to a better job.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union