As temperatures plunge, the conflict between Ontario teachers and the Doug Ford Conservative government is heating up.
With exaggerated budget deficit figures in tow, the Tories decided to pick a fight with educators by increasing the size of classes and requiring students to take online credit courses, the overall result of which would be the loss of thousands of teachers’ jobs. Like so many of the savage cuts made by Ford to health, transportation, environmental protection, legal aid and other vital public services, his education measures violate his pre-election vow that there’d be no job losses, only “efficiencies.”
To top it off, the Tories passed Bill 124, a salary cap of 1 per cent imposed on the entire public sector. The four teachers’ unions (OSSTF, ETFO, OECTA and AEFO) are taking the government to court. The Tories are likely to lose, based on recent rulings which struck down laws (e.g. the 2012 provincial Liberals’ Bill 115) that abrogated collective bargaining rights. Unfortunately, it will take years to get a definitive high court ruling, and possibly decades to reverse the harm that may be done in the interim.
Continue reading Bill 124 Heats Up Ontario Education Conflict
by Emily Steers
Three years ago, a group of graduate teaching assistants began a campaign to unionize the TAs at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, about 100 km west of Toronto. Laurier was one of the only Ontario universities where TAs lacked a union. This was reflected in the disparity in our pay, training, and the consistency of work between departments. For two years the TAs worked diligently to spread the word and boost the union drive, and chose the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) as the union to join.
Since September, the drive picked up in earnest. Campaign organizers visited classrooms, set up information tables, created an active social media presence, and distributed union cards. Once we met the requisite 40 per cent of workers who signed cards, we filed for certification, asking the Ontario Labour Relations Board to conduct a vote. It took place online, November 5-6. There was a massive turnout. The employer contested the legitimacy of the vote, padding the employee list and filing a section 8.1 objection (disputing that we met the 40 per cent threshold). The union challenged over 50 names on the employers’ list.
Continue reading Laurier Teaching Assistants Unionize!
Once again the Post Office in France, backed up by the forces of the French state, is attempting to victimize those who fight for workers and their union rights.
Gael Quirante, a leader of the Postal Section 92 workers in the Paris region, has just been sentenced to 3 months jail sentence suspended, 5 years probation, and fined almost 2,000 Euros in total, for his actions in leading a successful year-long strike against La Poste management.
The decision of the court, which took just 15 minutes to deliberate, after hearing more than 6 hours of legal argument, is designed to discourage labour unionists like Gael who won’t back down, and who refuse to be bullied.
This ruling takes on added importance as the mass struggle against the French government’s attacks on workers’ pensions enters its third week and is experiencing a growing wave of support and mobilization. The French state intends to use trials against labour unionists like Gael to try to dampen enthusiasm for the most massive outpouring of workers’ and social justice militancy since 1995.
Socialist Action/Ligue pour l’Action Socialiste calls upon all workers and union members to help defend Gael Quirante by contacting the French Embassy or the nearest consular office and demanding the following:
No Sentences, No Fines, No Repression against Gael Quirante. Drop All the Charges Now!
Quirante and his lawyer immediately launched an appeal, which stays the sentences and fines until after the new trial. International solidarity can help put an end to the repression of Gael and to attacks on all unionists victimized for fighting for their rights, and for those of their co-workers.
Continue reading Statement of Solidarity concerning comrade postal worker in France, Gael Quirante
By JEFF MACKLER
Twenty-five thousand Chicago teachers, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers Local 1, AFL-CIO, returned to work on October 31 following a divided vote of the Chicago Teachers Union’s (CTU) 700-member Delegate Assembly (DA) to end the union’s 11-day strike. The vote to accept the five-year tentative contract was 60 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed. Despite the DA’s “tentative” settlement approval and its authorization to return to work immediately, the union’s rank-and-file will also vote on the contract on November 20, the date when the Chicago Board of Education is expected to approve a final settlement term recommended by the Board’s negotiating team, headed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, wherein five make-up days are to be proposed for approval.
The school district’s 7,500 non-teaching staff of custodians, special education assistants and school aides represented by SEIU Local 73, which supported the striking teachers, voted to accept their separate contract on October 31.
Continue reading Chicago teachers divided over strike settlement
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!”
Continue reading Socialist Action joins march of hundreds of OFL delegates from convention hotel to Ontario Legislature