Today, we joined an important press conference to extend a message of solidarity to CUPE New Brunswick on behalf of CUPE Ontario’s 280,000 members.
Attended by about 200 local leaders, rank and file members, the President of CUPE New Brunswick, Stephen Drost, CUPE New Brunswick announced that the Premier of the province has yet to settle collective agreements with over 22,000 CUPE members.
These leaders announced that 50 days have passed since notice was given to the Premier to fix an avoidable labour crisis – and that if there isn’t a resolution within another 50 days for the dozens of locals, many of which have now been without agreements for up 4 years, they were willing to take the courageous step of holding a mass provincial strike vote in unison.
We want to make it clear that this is an historic, inspiring, and instructive moment.
It’s simply not every day that tens of thousands of public sector workers, members of different locals working in different sectors, from across the province declare they will have no other choice but to hold strike votes in unison.
It’s an incredible and inspiring example of collective action and collective resolve. And it’s one that the 280,000 members of CUPE Ontario are in complete solidarity with.
CUPE Ontario’ s Executive Board, inspired by the mobilizing of members in New Brunswick, has unanimously adopted a solidarity pact – the first step of which is a $50,000 donation to support CUPE New Brunswick at this crucial time.
This is the least we can do considering that our struggles are interwoven. We’re facing identical challenges from governments united by a common devaluation of front-line workers and the important public services we deliver.
The fact is, with a few edits, you could replace “New Brunswick” with “Ontario” or “Alberta” and still tell the same story.
It’s a story of wage restraint that keeps front-line workers unable to keep up with the increased cost of living due to inflation.
It’s a story of the devaluation of the very front-line workers who kept us safe during the worst of times and will continue to keep our communities running when we get out from under COVID-19.
In Ontario, this has manifested itself in the Ford Conservatives’ Bill 124, that caps public sector workers wages and benefit increases at 1 %, far below what is deserved and far below the rate of inflation.
They can’t have it both ways – Premiers and governments can’t call front-line workers heroes while forcing them to accept wages that are not commensurate with their heroism.
This demands our solidarity, and we need to let CUPE New Brunswick know that they have it from all 280,000 Members of CUPE in Ontario.