We are deeply saddened that Sid Ryan will be leaving the helm of the Ontario Federation of Labour and want to take this opportunity to recognize his many efforts, over many years, to build a strong and progressive labour movement in our province.
Sid served as President of CUPE Ontario from 1992 to 2009. This was a period of political and economic turbulence in Ontario during which both private and public sector workers faced repeated assaults on their working conditions and standards of living.
Whenever employers and governments attacked, Sid’s impulse was always to rally the membership and fight back. He was a courageous leader, who inspired CUPE members to demand more and better. He worked hard to raise the expectations of workers and had little patience for those who advocated more cautious approaches out of fear of possible defeat.
Sid staunchly defended the collective bargaining rights of CUPE members and gave his active support to workers in every contract dispute, working hard to make sure that every CUPE local in Ontario got the resources it needed in the fight for fairness. He pushed each successive Ontario government to increase funding for public services and was a fierce opponent of every form of privatization.
Under Sid’s leadership, CUPE in Ontario became a visible force for human rights and equity in Canada and abroad, and he worked hard to change CUPE’s internal structures to give voice and meaningful power to all the union’s many constituencies.
Sid sought to make the Ontario Federation of Labour a powerful force of change for the benefit of all workers: those who are unionized, those who are not, those who are off the job because of injury, and those who are unemployed. Through his three terms as President, the OFL became more visible, thanks in large part to Sid’s leadership and commitment to take on the key issues of the day.
A true champion of working people, a builder of our movement, and a committed force for progressive change, we commend Sid for making this tough decision about the upcoming convention, which is another testament to his leadership.
CUPE Ontario will work hard to keep building a strong, dynamic and democratic Ontario Federation of Labour, for the good of our members and all working people, and to honour the contribution and legacy of Brother Sid Ryan.