I’ve heard from many of you this summer about your anxiety about Doug Ford; about what his new government might do and what we, as labour activists, should be doing to respond.
I get it – your instinct may be telling you to fight. We’re all strong labour activists, and I commend you for wanting to channel your concerns into actions. I believe that getting ahead of the curve is important, and I know that some of you would like to take action right away, before we even know what the Conservatives are going to do.
My gut’s telling me that we need to be more strategic in our approach.
The wisdom of the ages teaches us that steadiness often beats eagerness. We know we’ve got a long road ahead; we’ve got to pace ourselves and seize on opportunities strategically. There will be many battles, but we need to focus on winning the war.
We’ve got to remember our fundamental purpose as a union; to protect our members’ jobs, and our province’s precious public services – but that isn’t an overnight job. We’ve got to focus on the long game.
I can assure you, we’re already engaged in dialogue with the new government, and I’ve had a number of meetings with a host of new Cabinet Ministers. Through dialogue, I am hopeful that our union leadership can help to soften any sting to come. But I also know we must prepare for the worst. Early indications are that this new government is more interested in undoing than doing – and that’s not good for anyone.
We must remain patient and focused.
We have to stay disciplined in our pursuit of protecting good jobs and vital public services. We’ve worked hard, but now we must focus on working smart. That means building-up our union locally, and regionally; it means building a united front, and speaking with a unified voice.
That’s why on October 27 I am inviting all local presidents, executive board members, sector and MERC chairs, and equity leaders to OPSEU’s All-Presidents Meeting in Toronto. This will be an important opportunity to discuss our strategic plan for the next four years.
The strength of our unified plan will mark the strength of our union. This is democracy at its finest, and this is how we will win – by combining the shared knowledge and experience of our union’s leadership at all levels.
We will have more information for you in the coming weeks, as we prepare to officially launch the event in early September.
Stay tuned, but most importantly we must all stay focused.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union