'We’re all in this together...No self-respecting union would ratify the so-called deal your employer has put on the table' - Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
Sudbury (24 Aug. 2010) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) will stand behind striking employees of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) no matter how long they are off the job.
"OPSEU is one big family and organized labour is a big family," union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas told members of OPSEU Local 677 Monday on the picket line at NOSM’s Laurentian University campus in Sudbury. “We’re all in this together.”
Thomas visited the striking administrative, clerical and technical workers who are now in their second week off the job in a labour dispute with the school of medicine.
His message was that they should settle for nothing less than the respect and fairness they are seeking – and deserve – in a first contract.
“No self-respecting union would ratify the so-called ‘deal’ your employer has put on the table,” Thomas told the cheering workers."
After visiting Sudbury, Thomas left for Thunder Bay to address workers picketing on the NOSM campus there.
Outstanding issues in the dispute include work hours, contracting out, benefits, family leaves and overtime.
Sue Brown, vice-president for OPSEU's Region 6, echoed Thomas' message, pledging to "walk should-to-shoulder" with the employees until they win a fair and reasonable contract.
“Stay solid; stay strong and you will win. You’ll be a much happier group when this is over,” Brown said.
Local 677 bargaining team chair Tyler England said NOSM workers are off the job “for all the right reason” and he paid tribute to their determination to stand up to a management team “that doesn’t give us the respect we deserve.”
Striking demonstrators on the picket line were also joined by John Closs, president of the Sudbury and Region Labour Council, which represents 15,000 workers in the area. He told them that organized labour fully supports their position in the dispute.
“We’ll be there when you need us,” he said, noting that he expects a show of support for NOSM workers at the city’s labour day parade and picnic on Sept. 6.
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