As we head into what looks to be a scorcher of a summer (although some still say that global warming is not real) I was hoping to provide a lighter message, reflective of summer holidays and family fun. Unfortunately, the times dictate that we remain on guard and vigilante even during our traditional “down” time.
First, as President Thomas has indicated, the Tories have unleashed their “white” paper for revamping labour laws in Ontario. Some call it “Wisconsin — the sequel”….I call it “H2O” or H2 (Hudak and Hillier) equals 0.
Hudak and Hillier, the dynamic duo of red meat conservatism, have determined that the way to get Ontario back on track is to destroy unions, lower wages and have workers race to the bottom. Lower wages mean lower government revenues through taxes. Perfect, that will let them cut, gut and privatize everything.
It seems incredible that Randy Hillier is now the most powerful figure in Tim Hudak’s shadow cabinet. He’s the guy who made his name despising government, yet now he’s within a breath of helping to lead one. Luckily there is one small barrier blocking their way — the need to first win an election.
Second, it will not be long before the Kitchener Waterloo bi-election is announced. Voters will have a choice. They can (1) give McGuinty his coveted and paid for majority; (2) set Ontario back 100 years with the Hudak/Hillier alliance, or (3) elect an NDP MPP whose leader put the people of Ontario first.
This election is a pivotal one for OPSEU members, so we will be there in full force.
Third on the list is bargaining. Last week, a major teacher’s union, OECTA, reached an agreement with the government. It looks as though a number of union concessions were a part of their agreement. Before the ink was dry, the Liberals publicly stated that this teacher’s agreement would set a pattern for the rest of their public sector partners. (Partners, in McGuinty talk, means unions.)
We should also note that the elementary Catholic teachers are one small part of the education sector. Other larger teacher unions continue to resist similar concessions.
We have also seen initial demands for concessions from AMAPCEO and folks, it’s not pretty. For years that group has bargained behind OPSEU in typical “me too” fashion. It will be interesting to see how those members respond to the government’s direct attack on their collective agreement.
No worries. In the face of pressure, we will do what OPSEU does best. We bargain professionally, methodically and in full consultation with our leadership and membership.
Whether it is a 10 member BPS unit or the nearly 40,000 strong OPS, we will mobilize, educate and negotiate to get the best deal possible. With over 135,000 members we have the resources and support to get the job done.
So my friends — it is going to be a busy summer. Get some rest while you can. Enjoy your family and loved ones. Remember, on those blistering days, to drink plenty of safe, publicly tested H20… and I’m not talking about the Tory kind. That brew is sure to cause cramps.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU