The recent state funeral held for Jack Layton was a powerful rallying call for renewed hope and optimism. This message comes just as the writ will be dropped and campaigning begins in earnest for the upcoming Ontario general election. It also comes as an important call for solidarity as we look forward to celebrating Labour Day.
As we participate in Labour Day events this coming weekend, we are reminded that we are part of a larger community of workers that extends across the province, and across the world.
On this holiday gained by unions, we are also connected to our proud history. Labour Day is an opportunity to celebrate the many successes of the labour movement: equalizing power balance in the workplace, hours of work, guarantees of time off, improving equity, establishing standards of health and safety, giving workers a place at the table in negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment. These are achievements that need to be celebrated more often, so they can be built upon further.
Many great union achievements for workers are now considered "status quo". There is a misconception that these hard-won successes would never be legislated away by government. Some would have us believe there is no need for unions — that employers have the best interest of all workers and their families at heart.
The facts point to quite a different reality. Good jobs, which include full-time, safe work with benefits, are being compromised right here in Ontario. This is being done to appease the corporate agenda of profit over people, which impacts on every community throughout the province.
As we stand in solidarity with support workers at Ontario colleges who have been forced onto the picket line, we are defending good jobs. These 8000 workers are doing the right thing, and fighting for decent jobs, not just for themselves, but for today’s students — the young new workers of tomorrow.
As we draw closer to Ontario elections, let us be inspired by the labour movement, its successes and values, and give our support to candidates who uphold our vision of a better Ontario for all of us.
We want an Ontario that invests in the quality public services we all depend on. We want good, full-time permanent jobs that allow families to feel confident about a stable future. We want an end to the corporate, no strings attached, tax give-aways that are taking much needed funding out of our provincial budget and directly affecting the social and economic health of our communities.
Over the next five weeks, OPSEU members are mobilizing across the province to make a difference in their own future.
We will lobby politicians, join phone banks and knock on doors. We will sign petitions, write letters to local newspapers, and participate in local candidate meetings. The activist strength of our 135,000 membership can be felt in every community of the province, if we so choose.
By donating our time to help labour-friendly candidates get elected, each one of us can make a difference. We can be a force for positive change in Ontario; it is an investment in the kind of Ontario we want for the present and future.
On October 6, we have an opportunity to vote for the kind of Ontario we want.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU