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Sisters and Brothers,

May Day is a time to reflect on more than 130 years of hard-fought victories for the labour movement around the world.  It is also a day to renew our commitment to mobilize, not only to protect those gains, but to build on them.

We know workers around the world face daunting attacks on their hard-gained rights and hard-earned public services.  We know politicians here at home, from the Harper government in Ottawa, to the McGunity Liberals at Queen’s Park and some municipal politicians across the province, are stepping up their attacks on what we in CUPE have built over decades of hard work – strong public services, defined benefit workplace pension plans, fair wages and safe working conditions.

So we take inspiration from the popular movements around the world that are rising up to challenge the agenda of public service cuts and inequality.  From a small park in New York City, the worldwide Occupy movement emerged last year to put income inequality on the front pages and in the public consciousness.  It rose up to demand a better world for the vast majority of us – the 99% – whose standard of living and public services are under attack by the very banks and corporations that caused the financial crisis in the first place.

Here at home, we stand in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of Quebec students who are demanding accessible, public post-secondary education and saying NO to their provincial government’s agenda of public service cuts.  For more than two months, students in Quebec have been on strike to oppose a proposed 75 percent increase in tuition fees.  In taking to the streets daily in large numbers – a quarter of a million people at one march alone – students are challenging the entire austerity agenda by demanding protection for the vital public services people depend on.

As we continue to mobilize to resist the current agenda of cuts, it is important to mark everything that our movement has achieved, to remember the difficult struggles to get to this point and to grow our movement in the future.  Public health care and education, fair wages, public pensions that allow people to retire with dignity, pay equity, parental leave for working parents, accessible workplaces, these are just a few of our successes.  An eight-hour work day, which hundreds of thousands took to the streets for in the U.S. in 1886, is the very root of labour’s May Day.  And in recent weeks, aquatics workers in Hawkesbury and casual and relief workers at Nipissing Transition House in North Bay voted to join CUPE in an ongoing effort to be treated fairly and equitably.

Together, we are more than 230,000 Ontario workers. We are part of a growing movement to fight public service cuts and mobilize across the province to build a better Ontario.


Fred Hahn, President

Candace Rennick, Secretary Treasurer

CUPE Ontario