It’s that time again. It’s time to review the past year. It’s time to plan. We must strategize and prepare so we can meet upcoming challenges. Yes, it’s time to develop the 2013 OPSEU budget. What is the right course for 2013?
In many cases it is steady as we go. The attack on working people, anticipated last year, continues. We are now feeling the right-wing assault on our core democratic values. Their attack is directed at our constitutional collective bargaining rights. They are coming with a vengeance.
Not only does their aggression affect the daily lives of our members, who sustain OPSEU’s existence – it makes budget development very challenging.
Given that government can change laws governing collective bargaining (subject to constitutional challenges) I will approach this year’s OPSEU budget with extreme caution. After all, we know the Liberals want to freeze and claw back the wages, pensions and benefits.
There is unlikely to be any dues growth if member wages may be flat lined or even clawed back. It would also be naïve to assume that membership numbers will continue to grow when two of Ontario’s political parties are demanding layoffs. This challenge requires both inspiration and perspiration.
Our targets are just as clear. We must continue to be a powerful force. We will keep bargaining hard. We will continue to aggressively represent members. We will educate, agitate and organize. We will call for a fair wage Ontario. We will work towards societal change.
Our collective demand is for a change to policy; a change to attitudes and a change to government.
Last week, after watching the first American Presidential election debate, the right-wing response to the financial mess was finally presented. Mitt Romney set out a key part of his strategy by promising to cut that country’s public broadcasting service (PBS), putting an end to the loved (and award-winning) children’s show – Sesame Street. Who knew that the 2008 financial meltdown was caused by Big Bird, not Big Business?
In the minds of McGuinty, Hudak and Romney, Sesame Street, rather than Bay or Wall Street, was responsible for the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression. Yep, it was the Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Miss Piggy, and Kermit that brought us all to the brink of bankruptcy.
Yes folks. That’s how ridiculous it’s become. The sad part is that some people believe it.
We need to be clear. Just as with Sesame Street, unions have been demonized by bankers and their pals. That’s because like Sesame Street, unions represent an opposing voice the right wants to silence.
After all, we educate others. We explain our position in clear terms. We hold firm to our commitments. We believe compassion, fairness and that love for our neighbour is a good thing. The right knows that these community values will keep them from their goals.
They also know that we have a better way forward called “The Pathway to Prosperity”. In our approach everyone gets a fair shake and a fair share.
The people on Wall Street and Bay Street put us where we are today. They aren’t interested in helping those who are now suffering as a result. That is not to their advantage. They have no answers.
The answers are here, with those of us on the corner of Union and Main Streets. We are the middle class. This is where we live.
This is the thinking I’ll use for the 2013 OPSEU budget. Together, we will build a budget that will help to overcome the challenges ahead. That is why, together, we are OPSEU – Ontario’s Union!
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU