November 8 2022
“We are where the power in this province resides. They might only be coming for education workers now, but when you come for one of us, you come for all of us. Let this last week be an example — workers united will shut this province down whenever we need to.” — JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President
Ottawa (08 Nov. 2022) — In an unprecedented move, the Ontario government has committed to withdrawing Bill 28. This legislation imposed an unacceptable wage settlement, and included the notwithstanding clause that prohibited any strike for CUPE education workers for 5 years, and also carried fines of $4,000 per worker per day and $500,000 per day on the union.
Ontario government blinked
This took place in the face of growing solidarity, not just in Ontario but across the country, for CUPE and its workers. Pledging support were public and private unions, unions who had supported Ford in the last election and those who are not politically aligned, and the public who marched on the protest lines on Nov. 4 — all who recognized that our rights were being abused by a government determined to make an example out of some of the lowest paid education workers in the province.
“We understand that other provincial governments were watching what was going on with this labour dispute,” said Bert Blundon, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “If the Ford government could trample on workers’ constitutionally protected rights, then what would stop any other government. We were determined to not let this happen.”
OPSEU/SEFPO standing by
In particular, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO/NUPGE), a NUPGE Component, has been watching closely as its 180,000 members, including education workers, will be facing the same government across a bargaining table in the near future.
As JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President, said at the CUPE press conference, following Ford’s written commitment to withdraw the legislation in its entirety, “The power of workers and of public and private sector unions coming together to fight cannot be overstated.”
“We are not standing down; we are standing by. We will make sure that promise is made to stick. We’re in this fight with CUPE workers, with our own education workers, with teachers, and with workers across the province. This is a moment to stand up for each other and to walk the talk of solidarity,” Hornick continued.
“Bill 28 was an attack on workers, but it was also an attack on the foundations of democracy, the freedom of association and the freedom of expression. All Ontarians should be joining the labour movement in this moment to hold the Ford government accountable. Don’t let them divide and conquer us!”
“We are where the power in this province resides. They might only be coming for education workers now, but when you come for one of us, you come for all of us. Let this last week be an example — workers united will shut this province down whenever we need to.”