Summer 2012 – The calm before the storm?
July 9, 2012
As we head into what looks to be a scorcher of a summer
(although some still say that global warming is not real) I was hoping
to provide a lighter message, reflective of summer holidays and family
fun. Unfortunately, the times dictate that we remain on guard and
vigilante even during our traditional “down” time.
First, as President Thomas has indicated, the Tories
have unleashed their “white” paper for revamping labour laws in Ontario.
Some call it “Wisconsin --- the sequel”….I call it “H2O” or H2 (Hudak
and Hillier) equals 0.
Hudak and Hillier, the dynamic duo of red meat
conservatism, have determined that the way to get Ontario back on track
is to destroy unions, lower wages and have workers race to the bottom.
Lower wages mean lower government revenues through taxes. Perfect, that
will let them cut, gut and privatize everything.
It seems incredible that Randy Hillier is now the most
powerful figure in Tim Hudak’s shadow cabinet. He’s the guy who made his
name despising government, yet now he’s within a breath of helping to
lead one. Luckily there is one small barrier blocking their way --- the
need to first win an election.
Second, it will not be long before the Kitchener
Waterloo bi-election is announced. Voters will have a choice. They can
(1) give McGuinty his coveted and paid for majority; (2) set Ontario
back 100 years with the Hudak/Hillier alliance, or (3) elect an NDP MPP
whose leader put the people of Ontario first.
This election is a pivotal one for OPSEU members, so we
will be there in full force.
Third on the list is bargaining. Last week, a major
teacher’s union, OECTA, reached an agreement with the government. It
looks as though a number of union concessions were a part of their
agreement. Before the ink was dry, the Liberals publicly stated that
this teacher’s agreement would set a pattern for the rest of their
public sector partners. (Partners, in McGuinty talk, means unions.)
We should also note that the elementary Catholic
teachers are one small part of the education sector. Other larger
teacher unions continue to resist similar concessions.
We have also seen initial demands for concessions from
AMAPCEO and folks, it’s not pretty. For years that group has bargained
behind OPSEU in typical “me too” fashion. It will be interesting to see
how those members respond to the government’s direct attack on their
No worries. In the face of pressure, we will do what
OPSEU does best. We bargain professionally, methodically and in full
consultation with our leadership and membership.
Whether it is a 10 member BPS unit or the nearly 40,000
strong OPS, we will mobilize, educate and negotiate to get the best deal
possible. With over 135,000 members we have the resources and support to
get the job done.
So my friends -- it is going to be a busy summer. Get
some rest while you can. Enjoy your family and loved ones. Remember, on
those blistering days, to drink plenty of safe, publicly tested H20… and
I’m not talking about the Tory kind. That brew is sure to cause cramps.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU