'From entry level clerk to college professor, OPSEU members repeatedly demonstrate the kind of province-wide solidarity that gets the job done for working people.' - Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
Toronto (26 June 2009) - The landmark contract with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) proves that solidarity works, says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).
"The tentative agreement ... is a reminder of what solidarity can produce. It is the stuff that puts our union front and centre in the Canadian labour movement," Thomas says in a commentary on the OPSEU website.
"Solidarity is about standing shoulder to shoulder as our Liquor Board Employees Division (LBED) membership has just done, achieving a landmark tentative deal with a tough, wealthy employer in the middle of an economic crisis," he notes.
"OPSEU entered into a perfect storm back in 2008 – two years of round after round of bargaining in tough times. We set out ready to strike if necessary but always with the plan to negotiate improvements."
Thomas says the LCBO settlement is the latest in a series of strong agreements reached by OPSEU through a combination of professional bargaining backed by unified membership support.
"Our Community Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT) support bargaining unit got a deal in the fall of 2008, as did the Ontario Public Service later that year, both after fantastic member mobilizing and negotiating efforts," he writes.
"Our Health Professionals Division is standing strong as their arbitration continues. Our Broader Public Sector Locals are producing powerful strike mandates. Our CAAT Academic team has started bargaining and we will be there for them."
The "remarkable solidarity" of members has been the key to translating union priorities and demands into "significant gains and collective agreements that provide us with good jobs through the next few years," he adds.
"Are there some tensions along the way?" Thomas asks.
"Sure. But that’s what gets the creative union juices flowing. Our diversity makes it work. From entry level clerk to college professor, OPSEU members repeatedly demonstrate the kind of province-wide solidarity that gets the job done for working people.
"Along the way our bargaining strength helps young families to buy homes and older members to stay healthy, and our union wages help build local economies across the province. It’s time to give ourselves a collective pat on the back, recognizing what our solidarity produces."
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