by Barry Weisleder
It was a mockery of workers’ democracy.
The zoom conference hosted by the labour bureaucracy on June 20, it’s so-called review of the June 2 Ontario election, along with a look at the future of the unions, allowed no grassroots workers to speak. Only a panel of NDP cheerleaders and labour hacks offered versions of the same opinion — that it is necessary to work harder in order to win the next provincial election. If any further proof was needed, this echo chamber exercise demonstrated that there will be little progress until the conservative bureaucrats are replaced by class struggle militants, from the bottom up. The urgency of building a chapter of WAM in every union and allied workers’ mass organization is very clear.
Fortunately, several WAM activists posed sharp questions in the Chat column during the very one-sided, heavily orchestrated, 90+ minute zoom.
Basically, they argued that what’s next for Ontario’s labour movement depends to a large extent on the lessons learned from the fiasco of the past 4 years.
Instead of challenging the Thug Ford government when it broke the Ontario teachers’ strike, slashed spending on health, education and infrastructure repairs, deregulated environmental protection, lowered the minimum wage and made it more difficult to organize a union, reduced the number of seats on Toronto City Council, and allowed the police to brutalize and murder BIPOC people, the Ontario Federation of Labour cautioned against mass job action to protest the actions of the Tories. The advice of the OFL, and of the NDP, was to wage a low-level publicity campaign, culminating in a hoped-for change in government at the next provincial election.
The result was to let Ford make a cynical mid-term adjustment in slogans and personnel, re-brand the arch-Conservative regime as ‘pro-worker’, and coast to victory in a province unimpressed with what the NDP and other opposition parties offered.
Some of the union tops admitted that workers were demoralized to the point that many didn’t bother to vote, but didn’t explain why this was the case. Well, that would have required critical self-examination of the OFL and NDP campaigns, not to mention the federal NDP agreement with the Justin Trudeau minority government in Ottawa.
It was good to give the OFL tops a piece of our mind online. But they already know what union militants think. It will be necessary to put the movement back into the labour movement. That will entail preparation for the next round of class struggle against the Tories and the larger corporate agenda. Keep close to hand that banner, “Dump Thug Ford with a General Strike.”