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Organizing against Hudak's attack

Alex Thomson

April 6, 2014

On Thursday, March 6th, the Toronto and York Region Labour Council set aside the normal agenda for the monthly meeting to hold a regional meeting of the Ontario Federation of Labour’s Workers Rights campaign. 
This meeting was the second stop on a provincial tour by the OFL. Hundreds of labour activists packed the meeting, with standing room only, for an urgent call to confront the threat of Tim Hudak.
Speakers at the meeting were John Cartwright, President of the Labour Council, Sid Ryan, OFL President, Rob Fairley from the Labour Council, Carol Baker of the Ontario Common Front and Walied Khogali from the Canadian Federation of Students. They addressed the urgent need to engage with union members and alert them to the imminent danger to labour rights if an election is called in the spring and Tim Hudak wins a Conservative government. 
Union members across the province likely breathed a sigh of relief when Tim Hudak announced, after the NDP win in the recent by-election in Niagara, that he would not attack the Rand Formula (which requires every member in a union workplace to pay dues and that a local not strike while a collective agreement is in place). However, as the speakers pointed out, Michigan’s recent implementation of Right-to-Work legislation occurred shortly after the Republican governor had successfully campaigned on the promise not to introduce it. 
In addition, as outlined in the Conservative Party’s labour white paper, and reiterated by Hudak in his press conference, the plans for labour reform go far beyond the Rand Formula. The danger is that weaker union rights would lead to lower wages, benefits and pensions, weakened safety protections and impacts that would go far beyond union workplaces and to the wider community.
Discussion followed among the delegates to the meeting of how to bring the urgency of the situation to the workplaces and union membership. The response varied from local to local and between different unions—from expressions of confidence that the membership understand the gravity of the situation and are on side, to a recognition that workplaces encompass the same wide spectrum of political views seen the larger community and that a worker to worker campaign is necessary.

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