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PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) showed up in droves to say “No” to government plans to remove democratic rights and vowed to stand together against existing legislation, Bill 115, that does this in school boards. The Navy Association’s Admiralty Hall was packed last night as the union launched the region’s part of the provincial campaign to protect workers’ democratic rights to collective bargaining and impartial contract arbitration.
“Last night’s meeting shows our Peterborough members’ resolve to join other workers across the province in fighting the government’s attack on their basic democratic rights to negotiate fairly and freely with their employers,” said Candace Rennick, secretary-treasurer of CUPE’s Ontario Division. “It was great to see so many members eager to get involved in this campaign.”
Rennick and local leaders provided the crowd with updates on the Ontario campaign plans and on the Liberals’ legislation.
Bill 115, the Liberals’ legislation attacking school board workers, and other proposed legislation, strips long-standing rights from workers who collectively negotiate their contract with employers. It allows the government to dictate what a collective agreement must achieve and to change a negotiated agreement unilaterally. Proposed legislation also undermines the ability for workers who do not have the legal right to strike to seek impartial third-party arbitration when collective bargaining hits a dead end.
“These rights come from decades of hard work that have brought fairness and stability to labour relations in Ontario. They must be protected,” said Rennick.
The crowd included members from the school board and health care sectors who were the first targets of government legislation, as well as municipal, social service and university workers who are concerned about future legislative attacks. Much of the evening was spent brainstorming local campaign activities meant to raise public awareness about the importance of protecting collective bargaining and third-party arbitration rights.
“These legislative threats are really bringing people together. Workers are forming area mobilizing teams within their union locals and across sectors,” said Lynda Bolton, President of CUPE Local 126, which represents City of Peterborough inside workers.
The campaign is calling for the repeal of Bill 115 and an end to any further legislation proposed by the government and PC Leader Tim Hudak that undermines workers’ democratic rights.
For more information, please contact:
Craig Saunders, CUPE Communications, 416-576-7316