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Another Union That Endorsed Doug Ford is Condemning Ford’s Use of Notwithstanding Clause

The right to strike is a ’freedom that separates us from autocratic societies‘, Ontario construction union says

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A second construction union that endorsed Doug Ford in the 2022 Ontario provincial election is now condemning Ford’s use of the notwithstanding clause to impose a contract on Ontario education workers and prevent them from striking.

“I’m not happy about it and I find it an overreach and surprising,” Mike Gallagher, Business Manager of the International Union of Operating Enginers Local 793 told PressProgress.

IUOE 793  is the second construction to denounce Ford’s actions following LiUNA’s statement calling for Ford to repeal Bill 28 yesterday.

“The right to strike is very, very important,” Gallagher explained. “I think its a freedom that really separates us from autocratic societies, and I’m disappointed to see the government resort to that.”

“You really have to ask yourself, did they really work hard to address the concerns in regular bargaining or was this something they felt would get the results that they wanted quicker or conveniently? I’m not happy at all with them doing it.”

“It’s a slippery slope. If they are successful with using it against the support workers that CUPE has, what’s next?” Gallagher added. “I think that all of the workers out there, and I think that’s happening with all the other unions, looking at it and looking at each other and saying, ‘Is the constitution only going to be upheld when it’s convenient to do so or is it actually a rule of law that we can rely on to protect our members?'”

Gallagher would like to see Ford get back to the bargaining table and offer education workers a deal that compensates them fairly and is adjusted “beyond inflation.”

“I support the education workers,” Gallagher continued. “I’d like the government to get back to the bargaining table and be realistic with the proposals that they’re making, understanding that these workers do very, very important jobs. They look after our children and their important role should be compensated appropriately and also they should have a fair adjustment beyond inflation.”

“I really am sympathetic with them.”

IUOE 793 released a statement today calling for Ford to repeal Bill 28 immediately.

“A government can be judged in terms of its respect for the freedoms afforded under its Constitution and those that are guaranteed to working people which fundamentally includes the right to collectively bargain. The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld this,” IUOE 793 said in its statement.

“This separates us from autocratic governments around the world. The threat or resorting to using the notwithstanding clause when it becomes politically expedient is not a road the Premier needs to go down, since I would hope the government understands the importance of upholding fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Canadian Constitution balanced against any short inconvenience a work stoppage could bring about.”

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In the 2022 provincial election, Ford pointed to endorsements from construction unions as evidence that he was “working for workers” and standing with “those who shower at the end of the day, not the start.”

However, the majority of Ontario’s major unions said Ford’s rhetoric did not match up with his track record and was an attempt to divide workers.

 

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Emily Leedham
Reporter
Emily Leedham is PressProgress’ Prairies Reporter. Her reporting has a special focus on workers and communities, big money and corporate influence, and systemic racism.

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