December 07, 2019
TORONTO – In a show of solidarity for education workers, Harvey Bischof, OSSTF President, Sam Hammond, ETFO President, Liz Stuart, OECTA President and Smokey Thomas, OPSEU President joined Unifor National President Jerry Dias at Unifor’s Ontario Regional Council today.
“Together we’re sending a message to Doug Ford that when he picks a fight with one of us, he picks a fight with all of us,” said Dias. “This is personal. It’s personal when they attack our kids.”
Hammond echoed the call for workers and unions to join forces.
“We are being attacked in the education sector and we need you with us as each affiliate starts to move to take a greater stand to protect children and public education in this province,” Hammond said.
Unifor offered its support to Ontario’s teachers and education workers in the fight against budget cuts that will increase class sizes, eliminate education options and career paths for students, and result in the loss of frontline jobs.
“The Minister of Education says we can fix the class size but the teachers and the workers have to pay for it,” said Stuart. “He’s stealing the money from the pockets of your children and he expects them to pay for it.”
Amid chants of “solidarity”, the five union leaders each addressed the more than 850 Council attendees representing Unifor Locals from across Ontario. Bischof told delegates that workers will not stand by as the Ford government attacks future generations of the province.
“We will not allow this government to create a bargain basement education system,” said Bischof. “The only solution will be found at the bargaining table. If not we will work with you and we will drive them out of office.”
Thomas sounded the alarm of looming threats to the broader labour movement.
“I feel it in my bones, I feel it in my heart that once Doug is done with the teachers he’s coming for the rest of us,” said Thomas.
In an earlier address, Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi vowed to continue Unifor’s Ford Fightback Campaign against cuts to social services, healthcare and education.
“We have held fast against this Premier. We have fought back,” said Rizvi. “But our work now is only getting started. We’re here to recommit to the next phase of this campaign and ensure that Doug Ford is a one-term Premier.”
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.
Media inquiries call Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).