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Socialist Digest –  January 2023

Canada’s 100 highest-paid corporate executives made an average of $14.3 million in 2021, exceeding the previous record of $11.8 million set three years earlier.  By January 3, the average CEO on that list made $58,800, the amount an average Canadian worker earns in an entire year, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

30 Minutes to a General Strike with OPSEU SEFPO Executive Board Member Julius Arscott

30 Minutes to a General Strike with OPSEU SEFPO Executive Board Member Julius Arscott

We were 30 minutes away from a call for a general strike. 30 minutes. RankandFile leaked it, and militants with exec positions in large unions confirmed — at 10 a.m. on Monday, November the 7th, multiple large unions with the backing of the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress were going to announce a general strike. This is the story of how we got to that point. Hosts Emily and Daniel recount that events that led this labour movement to precipice of historic mass job action — the OSBCU strike, Bill 28, and OPSEU solidarity wildcat actions. They are joined by Julius Arscott, a three-term OPSEU SEFPO Executive Board Member and 2021 candidate for President of the Canadian Labour Congress, who shares what happened behind the scenes and why a general strike is closer than in a very long time.

Interviews With TSSA Strikers

Nearly 200 members of OPSEU Local 546 are on strike against the Technical Standards and Safety Authority in Ontario.  These front line workers inspect elevators, ski lifts, food trucks and amusement park rides.  They check fuel-burning equipment, boilers and pressure vessels, as well as gas stations, propane dispensing stations and nuclear power plants.  They are on strike because the TSSA, an agency that works at arms length from the provincial government, has been trying to make do with fewer safety inspectors, less regular inspections and less accountability.  The workers need and deserve a wage catch-up.

Municipal Socialist Alliance Presents Candidate for Mayor of Guelph

Danny Drew is a non-binary activist running to be mayor of Guelph. Born and raised in Oshawa, they moved to attend the University of Guelph in 2009, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Danny worked in a wide range of jobs, always encouraging co-workers to exercise their rights and push for unionization. Currently seeking to win rights for thousands of workers via reclassification, they’ve supported many striking workers on picket lines.

BC Govt Workers Strike for Wage Catch-Up

Some 1,000 British Columbia General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) workers went on strike chiefly to obtain a cost of living allowance (COLA) to match inflation. More than 86,000 members of the BCGEU work in both the public and private sectors across the west coast province. The bargaining committee for the public sector component, representing 33,000 members, gave a 72 hour strike notice on August 15 after months of unsuccessful bargaining.

New Brunswick NDP Goes Forward

Efforts to rebuild the New Brunswick New Democratic Party as a socialist, labour-based, working class party made considerable progress at a convention held at the Lions Club Community Centre in Moncton, July 22-24, 2022. It was the first NB NDP convention in five years.  It attracted over thirty delegates, both in-person and online, plus several observers.  In the struggle to organize and convene the gathering, the NDP Socialist Caucus played a leading role, spear-heading efforts to overcome resistance by the provincial NDP leader who resigned rather than comply with the party’s decision to proceed.

OFL brass allow no discussion on what’s next for Ontario’s labour movement

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.

The Red Review: Through the Looking Glass — Comparing Canadian and Australian Politics with Isabelle Moreton

In this episode of The Red Review, brought to you by Socialist Action, Emily and Daniel talk with Isabelle Moreton of Brisbane, Australia. Isabelle provides analysis and commentary on various political struggles, including disability justice, queer and trans liberation. With the Labor Party winning the majority of seats in the recent election, who better to speak to about what this actually means for the exploited and oppressed masses in Australia and for the international labour and socialist movement. Expect a more banter-y conversation with striking similarities drawn between the Canadian and Australian political context.

Vote NDP in Ontario – Without Illusions

In the lead-up to the June 2 provincial election, Conservative and Liberal leaders are scrambling to align with public opinion by professing ‘progressive’ policies.  Tory Premier Doug Ford hopes voters will forget he spent years attacking workers’ rights, broke a teachers’ strike early in 2020, privatized nursing homes and grossly mishandled the pandemic.  Claims by Liberal leader Steven Del Duca that he will hike funding for healthcare and education are belied by his record as a cabinet minister in the Kathleen Wynne government which watched hospital services and schools deteriorate drastically, and sold off Ontario Hydro for a pittance.

The History of Wildcat Strikes

The continued “maturation” of late-stage capitalism saw multiple societal trends intersect violently in the 2020s. The Covid-19 pandemic intersected with real-time climate collapse and ongoing state violence against Indigenous, black, and other racialized people, which triggered spontaneous mass mobilisations against these multiple oppressions. That spontaneous display of anger towards the status quo spilled over into the labour movement as well. With decades of neoliberal austerity and outsourcing, union representation in Canada has fallen to only 30%. At the same time, the pandemic killed off and disabled a record number of workers and forced even more into early retirement. Workers now wield more economic leverage while being less organised than earlier periods of labour struggle. This combination of material factors built up to “The Great Resignation,” where individual workers eschew any company loyalty to take advantage of a labour shortage to maximise individual gains. But bubbling under the surface of this hyper-individualised approach to bargaining with the bosses is a resurgence in strike action of multiple flavours. Unions in multiple sectors struck for safer work conditions, better pay, an end to two-tiered contracts, and more. Yet many non-unionised workers, particularly front-line workers, also stood up and collectively struck in illegal job actions known as wildcat strikes. Given historic levels of worker upheaval and societal crisis combined with low levels of union representation, it is imperative to understand the wildcat strike as a tactic. By looking at important wildcat strikes in North American history, from the Pullman strike of 1894 to the 2020 wildcat of Albertan healthcare workers, we will highlight important lessons for the labour movement going forward

May Day 2022 — Reds and Labour Take to the Streets En Masse in Toronto

On Sunday, May 1, 2022 Socialist Action spokesperson Daniel Tarade addressed hundreds of workers and allies at Toronto City Hall Square.  J.P. Hornick, the newly elected president of OPSEU/SEFPO, along with representatives of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, an Indigenous activist and several socialist organizations also took the microphone. 

Signal Operators Walk Off Job at Union Station Rail Corridor!

96 signal operators with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) will walk off the job at midnight on Tuesday, Apr. 19. These workers operate and maintain the complicated system of tracks and switches around Toronto Union Station.

I won't cross their picket line and undoubtedly, other workers will also refuse.

In times of inflation and crisis, these workers are fighting for a fair contract. It's a fight that all workers benefit from, and we need to support them in this job action.

Privatization: The Vampire of Public Service

The word "Vampire" may seem harsh or macabre when speaking about economic issues, but when looking at privatization objectively, it becomes clear how striking the similarities are. Both feed off systems that are not their own, stealing what isn't theirs to grow fat and powerful. Both lie to lull you into a false sense of security, making their targets vulnerable and too passive to resist them. If privatization is a Vampire then austerity is the scent of blood that draws the predator in. In Newfoundland and Labrador, Canadians are facing another round of cruel and needless austerity.