Solidarity is more than a slogan, more than chant, and more than just the way we sign off our messages to each other.
Solidarity is all these things – but more importantly, solidarity is power.
Rich folks and big corporations have the power that comes from wealth, and the influence over politicians that wealth buys them. But for all the power money can buy, the one per cent have a big weakness – they’re only one per cent.
The rest of us may not have the money that billionaires can throw at politicians, but when we stand together, we have a power much stronger – the power of numbers. That’s what solidarity means.
We don’t need to look very far to see what that power can do.
In the most recent round of bargaining for Local 316, a single group of developmental services workers, none of whom are paid very much, stood up to their employer’s demands, and held firm for a fair deal. And when they stood up to their employer, OPSEU members in developmental services from across the province stood with them.
With the backing of all those members, and the support of the entire union, these workers threw the employer’s concessions back in their face and got the fair deal they deserved.
Now the OPSEU members in the Liquor Board Employees Division (LBED) need that same solidarity and support. They face an employer that is trying to make a weaker and meaner LCBO that would be worse for workers and Ontarians in general. The employer wants to continue with privatization; strip away language that prevents management from contracting out workers’ jobs; slash severance for workers who lose their jobs; continue giving casual workers two-hour shifts; ignore real concerns about the safety of workers who have to work alone; and much more.
In the face of these attacks, OPSEU members who work at the LCBO are standing up to the threat of privatization and fighting to save the LCBO. They have a plan to improve job security for workers, ensure casual workers get enough hours they can make ends meet, keep staff safe by making sure no one works alone, and fix scheduling so that workers still get time with their families and loved ones.
As these members head into the next phase of bargaining, with a 93 per cent strike vote and an employer trying to force anti-worker proposals on them, it’s time for us to do what we do best – stand up, and stand strong.
We’re OPSEU – we know how to do this. Our strength has always been, and will always be, our willingness to stand up for, and stand up with, one another.
From Cornwall to Kenora, Windsor to Timmins, in communities large and small, it’s time to remind the LCBO, and the Liberal government behind them, just who they’re dealing with here. Next time you see an LCBO worker, let them know you stand with them. And when pickets start happening across the province, take the time to head down to one near you, grab a sign, and stand with your fellow members, the way they’ll someday stand with you.
Together, and only together, we can save the LCBO – not just the LCBO we have now, but the better LCBO we know is possible. One workers can be proud to work at, and Ontarians can be proud to be the owners of.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU