It seems that not a day goes by without the union movement being under some kind of attack by the corporate elite and their media shills.
As the last line of defense for working people, we are convenient targets. The Globe and Mail could hardly contain itself. For that shameless rag and all the other right wingers who want to rid the world of pesky advocates, unions are more than a nuisance. We are the blight on the corporate bottom line. Who needs democratic checks and balances when all you need is blank cheques and bloated bank balances?
For this crowd, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is the new Messiah. Although Walker just narrowly survived the recent recall vote, they conclude that the end of greedy, unreasonable public service unions is clearly on the horizon. What they fail to mention are the tens of millions of dollars that corporate America poured into Walker’s campaign. Even with that the margin was tight and the people almost prevailed.
Back in Ontario, we are aware of the attack. We know austerity and prosperity have no relationship, unless you are already rich. And OPSEU members aren’t.
As we prepare to bargain on numerous fronts, I want to congratulate and commend all members who have put their name forward to take up a role in negotiations. Your selfless act to take on the giants in hostile territory is the epitome of courage. Collectivity, community, balance and fairness are signposts people believe in. They will make us strong.
We believe in public services. We believe in each other.
Over the coming period we will hear that we are asking for too much. Headlines in newspapers that have now been reduced to corporate newsletters will portray us as self-serving, entitled, unreasonable, greedy and part of the problem.
Just last week I heard on a right-wing radio talk show that it was the union’s fault that the City of Toronto had to give raises to its managers. After all, all those union wage demands produced “wage compression” by closing the gap with managers. What could the politicians possibly do but to raise the wages of those who made decisions like the ones that ended thousands of front-line positions and sent these workers to the unemployment line? Makes you wonder what the pay for performance bonuses provided to managers look like.
I believe that the union movement is experiencing a renaissance. We are reinventing ourselves to fight smarter. Folks are getting our message that as union density shrinks, income disparity rises.
As a result, OPSEU continues to grow as Ontario ’s union. I take great pride in that and all of the people that are working to make this happen. That’s right! I applaud each and every one of you who take time from your family; put in long hours of volunteer time and travel the province’s back roads while family and neighbours sleep; simply because you believe in the important work of the union.
You believe that together we are stronger. You believe that we do important work. And you believe in OPSEU.
And make no mistake. I believe in you. Together we are changing the world ….. one contract at a time.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU