Local union presidents and elected leaders in Northern Ontario met last weekend to tackle regional challenges as we continue to fight back against the Ford government.
“The one percent has done incredibly well but that has not been spread out, and that is our fight,” said Katha Fortier, Unifor Assistant to the National President. “We will negotiate back all of the things that were taken away from workers in Ontario.”
In light of provincial funding cuts and the attack on workers’ rights under the guise of making Ontario open for business, leaders representing 8,000 members in Ontario spoke about the fight for 15 and fairness and the dire state of our health care system. Many shared concerns about the overcrowding and underfunding that defines Ontario’s health care crisis and the threats to workers’ fundamental rights to health, safety and economic security.
“If we are going to talk about building the middle class, we will do that by working with unions; we cannot do it alone,” said Patricia A. Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and MP Thunder Bay-Superior North. “Unions have driven the quality of life that we now call the middle class lifestyle.”
Hajdu joined Fortier and Doug Murray, CEO, Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission in a panel discussion on the intersection of corporate, government and labour relations and how all three must work together to create and sustain good jobs.
Over the two days, local union presidents reported back on bargaining wins and other updates within their local. Looking ahead, Erin Harrison, from Unifor’s Political Action and Membership Mobilization Department shared how Ontarians are taking action to protect workers’ rights. Anthony Dale, Director of Unifor’s Legal Department shared insights about impact of cannabis legalization on workers and workplace legislation.
Kari Jefford, Unifor Local 229 President promoted upcoming education courses, opportunities to create retiree chapters and explained resolutions passed at the Ontario Regional Council.