On November 27, Socialist Action members joined a demonstration of hundreds of delegates from the site of the Ontario Federation of Labour Convention at the Sheraton Centre Hotel to the Ontario Legislature (see attached photo). Despite a steady cold downpour, the angry procession marched to protest deep social cuts, tax concessions to big business, and many anti-working class laws imposed by the Doug Ford Tory government.
Demonstrators chanted “If we don’t get what we want, shut it down.” Four teachers’ unions are now on the verge of strike action across Ontario. Elementary Teachers’ president Sam Hammond said at the concluding rally to loud applause “If teachers strike, everyone should go out!”
The OFL convention adopted an Action Plan on November 28, narrowly defeating four attempts to amend the document by inserting a commitment to escalating job action leading to a general strike.
The Plan does say “At the end of three years, we will organize a mass general action across Ontario to demonstrate the power of working class unity.” This language is, to say the least, open to interpretation. An honest union negotiator would call them ‘weasel words.’ The reference to “three years” signifies that an electoral campaign lies at the heart of the OFL leaders’ intentions.
Earlier in the week, delegates defeated an OFL executive-sponsored constitution amendment to reduce the frequency of OFL conventions from every two years to every three years. This was a big blow to the labour bureaucracy, which usually gets its way. Even more-so was the extraordinary vote obtained by Workers’ Action Movement candidates for President and Executive Vice-President of the OFL. Barry Conway, a CUPE local leader and IWW member from Hamilton got 36 per cent of the 869 votes cast. Kurt Young, a Sheet Metal Workers’ Union delegate and Socialist Action member from Mississauga, got 33.5 percent of the 899 votes cast.
Establishment forces, led by high school teacher Patty Coates who won the presidency, were visibly shaken by the sizable support shown for the WAM ticket. WAM, led by Socialist Action militants who re-founded the body in 2017, campaigned for an end to concessions bargaining, two-tier wages, undemocratic union practices, and for building towards a general strike to “Dump Thug Ford.” (See http://www.theWAM.ca )
Supporters of WAM played a pivotal role in defeating the above-mentioned constitution amendment, and in a related, unprecedented move, to extend the time for debate on the Plan of Action until every delegate who wished to speak on it was able to do so.
During the convention, dozens of delegates signed up to join WAM. Three of them applied for membership in SA.
— Barry W.