Across Ontario, Unifor members rallied in support of one another and for all workers and their communities whenever and wherever needed, Unifor Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi said.
“In Ontario, we are being tested every single day,” Rizvi said in her address to the Unifor Constitutional Convention today. “The story of Ontario in the last year is one where Unifor members have truly, openly, and honestly come together.”
When General Motors threatened the jobs of Unifor members, the union pushed back by rallying the community behind the workers and an aggressive publicity campaign.
“The entire country stood with us, while we took back GM headquarters, while we welcomed Sting and the cast of The Last Ship, and we felt solidarity from workers across the province when we brought the fight to Windsor, across from the Detroit headquarters,” Rizvi said.
“We don’t accept that this engine of Ontario’s economy should be allowed to slowly fall idle.”
The same solidarity was shown when Casino Rama announced layoffs, prompting a rally at the facility in support of the Unifor members there.
“Every sector, every corner of the province was in Rama to support gaming workers. That’s how we do it in Ontario,” Rizvi said.
Unifor also pushed back when Premier Doug Ford rolled back workers’ rights. Using the power of collective bargaining, Unifor put those rights on every bargaining table across the province.
“Since implementation seven months ago, close to 9,000 Unifor members have gotten back what was legislated away from them,” Rizvi said.
When staff ratios at long-term care centres fell, Unifor rallied members and the public with an award-wining campaign spoofing the ads used by long-term care centres to point out the poor working conditions in the industry.
“In typical Conservative style, the Ford government pushed for privatization, and a wage cap,” Rizvi said. “This, in a sector where many make minimum wage, for a backbreaking, exhausting, and vital job.”
Unifor is working hard to make sure Ford’s first term in office is his last, including having a nine-member team of on the ground organizers across the province. In the past year alone, they have pulled together more than 600 events, including member meetings and rallies.
“They have built local coalitions, supported parents of children with autism, made their Members of Provincial Parliament squirm, and inspired new activism across the province,” Rizvi said.
Such activism will be vital as Unifor pushes back against Ford’s cuts and in the coming federal election, she said.