Economic crisis brings together public and private sector unions to protect wages, benefits, pensions and basic labour rights.
Toronto (23 April 2009) - In an attempt to cope with hard economic times, union stewards across Toronto will hold a first-ever assembly on May 7, organized by the Toronto and York Region Labour Council (TLC).
Among the many labour organizations participating in the event - Solidarity in a Time of Crisis - will be the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).
"As the economic crisis deepens, workers in every sector of the economy will be facing intense pressure on wage levels, benefits, pensions, and even our basic labour rights," the TLC says.
"To face this looming challenge, unions across Toronto are coming together in a first-ever historic Stewards Assembly. Join us on May 7th to map out a united defence of our collective agreements and the standard of living of our members."
TLC president John Cartwright says in a letter to all local unions that the situation is urgent.
"Nobody knows how long this recession will last or how deep it will be, but every indication is that it will be neither short nor easy," he writes.
"Consider just two facts: Stelco never shut down during the Great Depression but is now closed until further notice. General Motors, once the largest employer in the world, is on the brink of bankruptcy."
Cartwright says layoffs are occurring "everywhere we turn" and the economy itself will be "significantly restructured" when the downturn eventually ends.
"Not only will wages and contracts in the private sector be squeezed but the anti-labour guns will be pointed at public sector workers and their basic rights to bargain for their members," he forecasts.
"We need to develop a collective response to this situation. Not every union will be impacted the way our manufacturing sisters and brothers are today, but clearly employers across the board are determined to explore any opportunity to reduce their labour costs and erode our bargaining strength."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
Toronto and York Region Labour Council website