'Working people are not the problem. Stop the corporate giveaways!'
Toronto (22 April 2010) - Bay Street bankers attending a $400-a-plate fundraiser for Finance Minister Dwight Duncan in downtown Toronto this week were confronted with a blunt message from provincial government employees: "Working people are not the problem. Stop the corporate giveaways!"
The demonstration was organized by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).
OPSEU says the irony was that the corporate money raised will go toward Duncan’s re-election in Windsor, where the unemployment rate stands at 12.2% - the highest in Ontario. "It’s fair to assume not many people there can afford to lay down $400 for dinner," the union says.
The spirited group, led by OPSEU's Region 5 executive board members, Nancy Pridham, Derek Miller and Ted Montgomery, handed out flyers to the hundreds of transit commuters streaming into the subway and to the expensively-dressed Bay Streeters heading into Grand Banking Hall.
“The people who went into the dinner got the message loud and clear from us," says Pridham. "We said: 'Here’s your menu, you’re going to be seeing a lot of us!” It was also suggested by the demonstrators that the fund raisers dine on "frozen dinners in honour of the public sector salary freeze."
“Members are upset that they’re expected to take the hit for something they didn’t cause," says Pridham. "They see managers continuing to get performance bonuses for laying off workers and keeping people down.”
At a special OPSEU executive board meeting held recently, strategies were developed to address the recent Ontario budget and the announcement of public sector wage controls.
OPSEU is urging the McGuinty government to cancel upcoming corporate tax cuts, cancel pay-for-performance bonuses for top public sector managers, create a new high income tax bracket requiring the privileged few with top incomes to do their share for Ontario and to create a low-income cut-off that exempts the lowest-paid workers from the wage freeze.
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