The construction union, which once backed the Ford government, now wants it to overturn the back-to-work law | Rare Techy


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to members of the Workers International Union of North America (LiUNA) in Grimsby, Ont., on Oct. 13.CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

One of Canada’s largest construction unions, which backed Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives in the 2022 provincial election, has now voiced strong opposition to the Ford government’s bill to end striking educators.

On Tuesday, the Laborers International Union of North America, or LiUNA, accused the government of undermining the collective bargaining rights of 55,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, or CUPE, who are in a labor dispute with the government. salaries.

“Limiting collective bargaining and the right of unions to strike and bargain freely by implementing back-to-work laws and imposing a clause regardless sets a dangerous precedent,” LiUNA International Vice President Joseph Mancinelli said in a letter sent to Ontario Education. Minister Stephen Lecce.

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The trade union calls on the government to withdraw the bill.

The Ontario government and thousands of educators represented by CUPE have been locked in a hostile fight over pay raises for weeks. The union has asked the province for an annual wage increase of $3.25 an hour, which would be 11.7 per cent, but the government’s final offer to workers was a 2.5 per cent annual increase for those making less than $43,000 and 1.5 per cent for those earn less than $43,000. earn more.

On Monday, the provincial government tabled back-to-work legislation that included a notwithstanding clause that removes CUPE’s ability to file a legal challenge to the legislation. Despite the threat of fines against them, CUPE workers plan to stage an illegal strike on Friday.

Mr. Mancinelli’s rhetoric toward the Ford government is in stark contrast to the union’s stance just six months ago, when it backed the PCs’ re-election along with seven other construction unions.

“They are in complete alignment with LiUNA on doing these things,” Mr. Mancinelli said in May, referring to Mr. Ford and his party, who supported new infrastructure projects such as building new highways.

Mr. Mancinelli did not respond to The Globe and Mail’s request for an interview to discuss the union’s current position on the upcoming strike and the use of the clause regardless. In a Twitter post, LiUNA emphasized that the union has always taken the position that it does not support government interference in the collective bargaining process.

“We do not speak for government at any level. If you support and/or support a political party, it will not come without holding them accountable and you will never agree with one political party in every thing said and done. This is reality,” the union tweeted.

Stephanie Ross, associate professor of labor studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, said she’s not surprised that LiUNA has spoken out on the issue, even though it has previously supported the Ford administration.

“I think their political strategy should best be understood as transactional, not partisan. These are unions that care a lot about collective bargaining rights and they don’t like to see them undermined because it threatens their own role as a union,” he explained.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says all politicians should be concerned about Ontario’s decision to invoke a notwithstanding clause to preemptively halt any legal disputes over the signing of contracts with 55,000 educators.

Canadian Press

Unions across the country have objected to the Ford government’s use of the clause to stop a potential legal challenge to its back-to-work laws. The Ontario Federation of Labor, a collective representing 54 unions and up to one million workers, called on the government to withdraw the legislation and “negotiate in good faith.” The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association accused the province of abusing its power to undermine the collective bargaining process. Many of these unions are calling for a general strike on Friday in solidarity with CUPE educators.

Larry Savage, professor of labor studies at Brock University in St. in Catharines, Ont., said the government’s back-to-work legislation shows “the limitations and inconsistencies of the PC Party’s labor charm offensive.” The government appears to have sought better working conditions in some aspects of employment. Last year, the government introduced the right to disconnect and a law forcing employers to disclose to their employees how they are being monitored electronically. Last May, the PCs repeatedly touted the support of their eight construction unions during the campaign as a sign that it had won the support of the labor movement.

“I think the Ford government may have underestimated the reaction of the labor movement more broadly,” Prof Ross said. “Moments like this provide a channel for people’s anger and pent-up frustration when they have no other outlets.”


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