Sept. 13, 2010 was a big day for our union. Close to 500 elected leaders from OPSEU locals, sectors, and key committees came together that day in Mississauga. They had one goal: to nail down a response to the McGuinty wage freeze.
The debate was passionate. Members had many views about the best strategy to take. But on one thing, all agreed: OPSEU members don’t buy Dalton McGuinty’s spin.
McGuinty claims the money saved from the wage freeze – $1.8 billion a year, give or take – will protect public services, save jobs, and help pay down the deficit. None of this is true. Every penny McGuinty drains from working people like you will be siphoned off to pay for tax cuts for corporations.
As our new brochure explains, cutting corporate incomes taxes is the least effective way to create jobs with government money. The best investment for Ontario right now is public services – from childcare to post-secondary education, from health care to public transit.
Elected leaders at every level of OPSEU are determined to fight the wage freeze. We are keen to fight the attacks on our work. So on Sept. 16, the OPSEU Executive Board voted as one to back a history-making campaign. Our goals are straightforward. We will:
- make sure every OPSEU member understands the real story behind the wage freeze;
- join forces with other unions and community allies who know that "austerity" can only hurt Ontario;
- tell the people of Ontario that, at a time when public services are already too lean, Dalton McGuinty decided that feeding the greed of CEOs was more important than (for example) easing the pain of children with mental illness or helping poor people get enough to eat; and
- ask every Liberal MPP why any OPSEU member should vote for a government that denies basic fairness to a million workers.
McGuinty’s plan is already coming unraveled. On Sept. 15, an independent arbitrator ruled that 17,000 SEIU members working in nursing homes could not be forced to accept a wage freeze, and granted them a two per cent wage increase. This case has huge implications, for the entire health sector and beyond. The arbitrator’s ruling only feeds our determination to fight back.
If the government has something to say to us, we are always ready to listen. But to make them say anything meaningful, what is needed now is more pressure. The government’s plan is weak; our strategy is strong; our union is determined to win. With a concerted effort now, I know that we will.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President