CUPE Ontario wishes a happy International Workers Day to all, and especially to CUPE members, on this day that recognizes the goals, achievements and aspirations of workers around the world.

In marking International Workers Day, also known as May Day, we are part of a global celebration of labour. Originally a day of protest by workers who were demanding the right to an eight-hour workday, May 1 has been adopted around the world as a day to demonstrate working class strength and solidarity. Canada and the United States are outliers in holding their celebration of labour in September, given that May Day is the  day to recognize the spirit of workers worldwide.

Around the world and across Canada, we see workers resisting the powers that exploit them without regard to human rights, justice or even basic fairness. In Ontario, we honour in particular the members of CUPE 233, who are on strike this May Day; and the members of CUPE 2276 and 4600, who recently ratified agreements after weeks on the picket line. And of course, this is the first International Workers Day we celebrate since we came close to a province-wide strike in November 2022, we recognize and honour the incredible organizing of CUPE Ontario education workers represented by the Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU).

When Doug Ford’s PCs took away the right to strike from 55,000 CUPE Ontario education workers and imposed a collective agreement, unions across the province, and indeed all of Canada, backed these workers in their fight. The strength of education workers inspired the solidarity shown by Canada’s labour movement, and both were  key to forcing the government to repeal the law and ultimately deliver an agreement that included significant wage gains.

These actions are reminders of what worker solidarity can do. International Workers Day is our day to recognize and celebrate all that collective action, which preserves and builds upon all the strength of working people around the globe and everything they have achieved.