MISSISSAUGA, ON – Almost a full contingent of OPSEU presidents from locals across the province were in a fighting mood as they gathered for the union’s “front line has been drawn” fight-back meeting. The historic gathering was organized in response to the election of the anti-worker Doug Ford government at Queen’s Park.
OPSEU Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says the union has a tough job ahead in protecting vital public services, but came away from the meeting assured that OPSEU members are up to the job. “We’re organized, resourced and ready to rumble if that’s what Doug Ford wants,” said Almeida.
“Doug Ford hasn’t done very much, but he’s sure undone plenty. Our job is the road ahead. Today OPSEU members have drawn a line in the sand. This government would be wise to pay attention.”
The Vice-President drew a bleak portrait of the political landscape since Doug Ford was elected Premier on June 7, calling out the government for a litany of measures he said would “punish” the very people Ford claims he is governing for. “He says he’s for the people. Well, the people who care for the people are prepared to make our presence felt.
“I’m here today, in the heart of Ford Nation, to say we’re not going to sit by and watch our public sector get wiped out – hell no, not on our watch. We are the backbone of this province. Politicians come and go, but the union’s here to stay. And we’re not going to let the Premier forget it. Right here in the mythical Ford Nation, we’re here to say: ‘Premier, from Windsor to Wawa; Kenora to Cornwall; Sarnia to Sudbury; Toronto, Ottawa and everywhere in between, this is OPSEU country.'”
Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress and one of the country’s most effective mobilizers, was a featured speaker. He pledged his full support in the struggle to defend excellent public services in Ontario. He reminded participants that ridding the province of this disastrous agenda was a marathon, not a sprint. “We dumped Harper. We will dump Ford. It takes unity and focus,” he said.
The day also featured a number of presentations from OPSEU staff that recalled previous governments’ fruitless attempts to erase worker rights and protections. “OPSEU has been through thick and thin, and we’ve survived many storms. And we’ve grown,” noted Almeida. “We’ll continue to grow and protect workers and our communities. Just ask Rae, Harris, Eves, McGuinty and Wynne.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas was unable to attend the meeting due to an urgent personal matter. However, he sent his best wishes and reiterated his offer to sit down with the Premier. “I told Doug Ford we wanted to help. I said OPSEU frontline workers had thoughtful suggestions for the government.
“Premier, let’s talk. Let’s work together to solve the province’s fiscal problems. Because we won’t let you put the boots to our members and public services. And we won’t back down. We never have. We never will. Not on my watch.”
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)