November 2, 2017
Education Workers Say No! to Attacks on
Their Working Conditions
All Out to Support Striking
Ontario College Faculty!
Stand with Ontario Community College Faculty!
Gather at 900 Bay
St., Office of Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier and
Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development
March to Queen's Park
For further actions in support of College Faculty see events calendar here.
Say No! to Attacks on
Their Working Conditions
• All Out to Support Striking Ontario College
• Take Up the Demand to Stop Paying the
Rich; Increase Investments in Education!
• Quebec Early Childhood Centre Workers Hold
Legalized Theft of
Workers Pensions and Benefits Must be Stopped!
• Hamilton Workers Rally in Support of Sears
Governments' to Account for Regulating on
Behalf of the Monopolies
• New Brunswick Workers Press Their Demands
on Workers' Compensation
• "Regulations Play an Important Role in
Safeguarding Our Communities"
- Interview, Fred Hahn,
President, Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario
of the Centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution!
Education Workers Say No! to Attacks on Their Working
All Out to Support Striking Ontario College Faculty!
Rally organized by Fanshawe College faculty outside Deb Matthews
constituency office in
London, October 30, 2017.
calls on everyone who is able to join the rally of the striking Ontario
college faculty and students on Thursday, November 2 at Queen's Park in
Toronto from 12 noon to 1:15 pm.
direction in the colleges to stop the increasing use of contract
faculty (faculty without stable full-time work). Their demands would
limit the expansion of the trend towards precarious contract work and
make inroads to reverse it. They also demand mechanisms for faculty and
students to have a greater say over their institutions so that the
quality of education can be defended and enriched. These demands
require an increased investment in the education system by provincial
and federal governments. This goes against the neo-liberal trend of
restructuring existing social programs to more effectively pay the
rich. Neo-liberalism is the politics of paying the rich, which then is
supposed to "trickle down" to the people.
One way neo-liberal
restructuring takes place is through the increasing use of
what are called "flexible" employment arrangements to depress wages and
free up funds to pay the rich. Instead, increased funds for education
should go towards improving the working conditions of college faculty
and the system’s assets, which are essentially their students' learning
conditions. Their demands include salaries, benefits and pensions
commensurate with the vital work faculty do.
administrators say they want "flexibility" from
one semester to the next to quickly service the demands of the large
monopolies for particular skills. The big companies demand well-trained
graduates to serve their narrow private interests rather than Canadian
nation-building. The monopolies designed the college system to service
their demand for trained employees without having to pay for that
public funds away from colleges to pay the rich in other
sectors is also being carried out on the backs of the sons and
daughters of the working people and their families who are forced to
pay high tuition and other forms of user fees to make up for the lack
of state investments in post-secondary education. These youth and their
families are deliberately placed into a servile relationship with the
banks that profit from their indebtedness through interest paid either
by governments or the youth and their families.
and how the progress of students is assessed means imposing limits on
the ability of the monopolies to use the colleges to serve their narrow
private interests that increasingly clash with the overall development
of Ontario and Canada.
Niagara College faculty joined on picket line by members of the Brock
Council has put forward proposals to make the
situation worse, in complete contradiction with what the faculty are
demanding. The Council wants to increase its ability to utilize
lower-paid and insecure faculty and use loopholes in Bill 148, the Fair
Workplaces, Better Jobs Act to maintain its ability to carry on with no
change in direction. This is because the Council follows a neo-liberal
aim to use the assets of the society, including the youth and workers,
to pay the rich. Through various rules and regulations, as well as
exercising control over who is appointed, the Employer Council and the
Boards of the Colleges are made instruments of the monopolies and
government to impose their will over college education rather than
representatives of the communities and public will.
unions and everyone else involved negotiate how best to implement
the neo-liberal program in education and have it serve the rich and
their narrow private interests. The struggle of the faculty and other
educators who uphold the modern right of education for all has always
been against the overall state-imposed framework. For example, the
McGuinty Liberals and Hudak PCs were forced to back down on their
outright dictate of their neo-liberal program when working people in
Ontario said No! to Bill 115
and its arbitrary legislative powers to
attack working people. Introduced in 2012, Bill 115 was meant to
deprive teachers and other education workers in the K-12 system of
their rights and was met with a resounding No Means No!
Wynne Liberals as well as
the Patrick Brown PCs now say they stand for negotiations and
collective bargaining, albeit within parameters they define, which are
essentially how to deprive working people of their rights. But working
people are rapidly gaining experience with the fraudulent form of false
choices and negotiations within a predetermined anti-social framework
and are finding ways to affirm their No!
within the circumstances.
faculty and students are saying No!
to the parameters being imposed on
them by challenging the overall direction. Their No! is a No! to the
denial of the rights of working people and the theft of the value they
create through their work by governments acting on behalf of the rich.
College faculty and students are saying No! to decreased investments in
education, to fraudulent negotiations in which the working people are
forced to choose their poison. Their No!
upholds the right of all to a
modern education within a system organized to meet the needs of the
people, the economy and nation-building. Their No! upholds the right of
those who provide the services society relies upon for its existence to
have a say over those services, how much should be invested, how they
are delivered and for whom.
No Means No!
Increase Investments in Social Programs!
Stop Paying the
Take Up the Demand to Stop Paying the Rich;
Investments in Education!
Rally at Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development,
Toronto, October 25, 2017.
Ontario college faculty are engaged in a just battle to
improve not only their own working conditions but those of thousands of
college teachers on precarious contracts. Waging this struggle also
seeks to elevate the learning conditions of college students. The ratio
of contract teachers to full-time staff is 70/30, a ratio faculty
denounce as injurious to teachers and students.
The Ontario Liberal government and
college administrators say changing the imbalance to 50/50 would
cost the Ontario treasury $250 million, a sum it does not want to
pay. The response of the government raises several important issues:
1) Increased investments in
social programs, in
this case education, are crucial for a modern economy and society.
2) College teachers and their students should not
have to suffer the consequences of an arbitrary provincial austerity
budget that cannot meet the educational needs of the 500,000
students and attacks teachers by hiring thousands of them on unjust
precarious three-month contracts.
3) The 24 Ontario colleges and their teachers
produce thousands of highly valued trained workers every year. The
modern economy cannot function without trained workers with specialized
capacities. Businesses in Ontario and elsewhere, especially in the
United States, employ those valued students who by working for them
reproduce the value of their education not just from the college system
but the K-12 system as well. This reproduced social value from their
education should be returned in a proper exchange with the educational
institutions that produced it and not be pocketed as additional profit
by employers, no matter where in Canada or the world they are
located. A modern educational system requires a modern system of
exchange to realize the value that it produces. The current method of
funding education from a provincial budget with revenue raised through
general taxation is a fraud that promotes the lie that education is a
cost. Also, charging students tuition violates the modern right of all
an education including a post-secondary one.
Education is not a cost. Education is a
socially-produced value that educated workers reproduce through their
work. For the working class to perform at the level required in a
modern economy, workers need education not only as a right for
themselves but as a necessity for the economy and society. The modern
economy cannot function without educational workers producing educated
workers and those educated workers reproducing the value of their
socially-produced education through work and having that value returned
in a proper exchange between the enterprises that employ them and the
educational system and its institutions.
Declaring education a cost is a subterfuge that the
ruling imperialist elite use to turn the educational system into yet
another state-organized pay-the-rich scheme where their private
enterprises use socially-produced education value without properly
paying for it for the purpose of further enriching themselves.
4) Teachers and other
education workers, the actual producers of education value must have a
say and control over their working conditions and terms of employment.
College teachers and other education workers should have a say and
control over the curricula, the functioning of their educational
workplace, the terms of their employment including wages and such
matters as the proper ratio of fulltime to part-time faculty, the
annual investment needed to continue operations through renewal of the
fixed assets, and a role in determining the value of their graduates'
Administrators should manage the colleges and ensure
they function smoothly but should not interfere with the teachers and
other educational workers who are doing their work. Governments should
end the practice of permitting the monopolies to set curriculum and
research in post-secondary education for their narrow private
interests. Government officials should instead use their authority to
ensure those enterprises that hire Ontario graduates realize in a
proper exchange the educational value of the workers they employ. This
necessity to realize the socially-produced education value goes as well
for those enterprises abroad, especially those in the United States
that annually hire over 150,000 educated Canadians without
acknowledging the source of that education value let alone realizing it
in exchange through payments.
Faculty at Cambrian College in Sudbury receive financial support for
their strike from sister
OPSEU Local 656, October 31, 2017.
Quebec Early Childhood Centre Workers
Hold One-Day Strike
Montreal, October 30, 2017.
On Monday, October 30, about 11,000 workers from more
than 400 early childhood centres held a Quebec-wide one-day strike
against the demands of the employers and the Quebec government for
rollbacks in all aspects of their working and retirement conditions. In
the early hours of the morning, workers who are members of the
Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN), mounted picket lines in
front of their centres and held demonstrations in several cities
including Montreal, Quebec, Sherbrooke, Joliette, Rimouski,
Cap-aux-Meules, Bonaventure, Rouyn-Noranda, Brossard, Gatineau,
Trois-Rivières, Sept-Iles and Saint-Felicien. Early childhood
centre workers recently voted 94 per cent in favour of a six-day strike
mandate to be used at the appropriate time to force a restart to
negotiations, the withdrawal of demands for concessions and for
acceptable collective agreements. The October 30 strike was triggered
by the government's latest provocation -- that negotiations will stop
until the workers accept the concessions in their pension plan -- on
top of the already large gap between the positions of the two sides.
Although the government says most of the bargaining issues are
resolved, the workers at the demonstrations said no progress has been
made on the issue of the pension fund, wages, group insurance, regional
disparities, the integration of the category of special needs educator
into the collective agreement, and several others. The collective
agreements of these workers expired on March 31, 2015. Over 30
bargaining sessions have been held since and the government is still
miles away from offering conditions that workers might even consider
On the picket lines and in the
demonstrations, the workers strongly denounced the government's efforts
to downgrade their conditions and the quality of services by
downgrading their profession, qualifications and training. The fact
that the government shows no respect for them and tries to negate their
status as educators of the younger generation was a recurrent theme in
the conversations. For example, workers denounced the government for
wanting to eliminate the specific ratios that govern the number of
children per educator, which are ratios that correspond to the
complexity of the work educators do according to the situation and the
problems experienced by the children. It seeks to replace them with
global ratios that have nothing to do with actual conditions and seeks
to remove these ratios from collective agreements, preventing workers
from raising grievances if ratios are unacceptable. The government, the
workers said, is also looking to eliminate the pedagogical hours that
are part of their working hours, which are hours of preparation they
need to provide services that meet the needs of the children. "Our
tasks are more and more complex, children come to us with more and more
complex problems because of the problems in society, and with
immigration the question of language in our communication with children
is also a complexity and the government recognizes none of this," one
educator told Workers' Forum
at the demonstration in Montreal. Among the most numerous signs were
those saying "Our training has value!" and "No to the rollbacks!"
One of the strongest sentiments expressed by the
workers is that early childhood services cannot be adequately delivered
without those providing the services having a decisive say about the
working conditions and the delivery of services.
Carole Leroux, President of the Early Childhood Centre
Workers of Montreal and Laval, expressed this well in her remarks at
the Montreal demonstration:
"Many of us have been in the system for a long time --
we know best how it works and what kids need. We are the ones who have
the training and expertise to work with the children entrusted to us.
You can see how the rollbacks demanded are a direct attack on the
quality of services offered to children and an attack on women who make
up 96 per cent of the workforce. We refuse to participate in lowering
the quality [of services]."
Early childhood workers are proud of the important work
they do for society, including providing childcare that enables parents
to participate in work outside of the home, and educating and
socializing children from a very early age. They demand working
conditions that correspond to their work and qualifications, and do not
accept being treated as a cost to be reduced in the name of anti-social
Legalized Theft of Workers Pensions and
Benefits Must be Stopped!
Hamilton Workers Rally in Support
of Sears Workers
Workers across Hamilton responded to the call of USW
Local 1005 to rally in support of Sears workers, retirees and their
families that are being deprived of the pensions and benefits that
belong to them by right by Sears Holdings and its use of the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act
(CCAA). Flags, banners and placards lined the street in front
of MP Bob Bratina's office and across from one of the Sears stores now
plastered in "Closing Out" signs. Local 1005 proudly positioned
banner, "CCAA Is Legalized Theft" in front of Bratina's office, while
flags from striking education workers at Mohawk College, the Canadian
Union of Postal Workers, CUPE Local 3396 which represents Hamilton
School Board workers and the Brewery, General and Professional Workers'
Union (SEIU Local 2) lined the street.
Workers shouted slogans and blew horns and noise makers at passing
vehicles, many of whom honked their horns in support.
Gary Howe, President of USW
Local 1005, said, "We all know why we are here. We are here to support
the Sears workers who are under attack under the CCAA. Since 2003 our
local has been saying that the CCAA is legalized theft. It is used to
attack workers' rights." Sears Holdings has taken money out of Canada
that belongs to the workers' pensions and benefits, he said.
Bill Mahoney, Local 1005's resident poet, captured
the militant mood of the rally with his poem that ended with the line:
"Who will build a world that's just and free, if it ain't those like
you and me?"
Paul Miller, MPP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek,
recounted a list of companies in Ontario which have used the CCAA to
attack workers' pensions and benefits. Now the same is planned for the
public sector. This has to stop, he said.
Anthony Marco, President of the Hamilton and District
Labour Council, called for the unity of all workers, unionized and
non-union, to take up the fight for the rights of all and for
legislative change to the current bankruptcy laws that have been used
against so many workers in Hamilton and across the province and country.
Demonstration makes its way through the Sears store in solidarity with
the Sears workers.
The demonstration stopped traffic on the busy four-lane
street between the MP's office and the Sears store and participants
crossed the street with flags and banners unfurled. In front of the
store they shouted: "Don't shop at Sears," before marching through the
store, in defiance of the security guards who threatened the protestors
with arrest for their act of solidarity with the Sears workers. The
demonstrators continued through the mall nonetheless, shouting slogans
and winning the approval of the people in the mall and emerged in high
spirits, buoyed by the militant action to defend the rights of all.
Workers Hold Governments' to Account for
Regulating on Behalf of the Monopolies
New Brunswick Workers Press Their Demands
on Workers' Compensation
As the New Brunswick government proceeds with its task
force on WorkSafeNB that was announced on May 30, and the Discussion
Paper has been released in October, workers are pressing their demands
for just and adequate compensation for workers who are injured or made
ill on the job. WorkSafeNB is the Crown corporation that oversees the
implementation of occupational health and safety, and workers'
compensation legislation in the province.
On October 24, the Canadian
Union of Public Employees (CUPE) New Brunswick organized a
demonstration in front of the provincial legislature to protest the
ongoing deterioration of workers' compensation in the province in the
last two decades.
On this occasion, CUPE and the New Brunswick Federation
of Labour are putting forward three immediate demands to change this
These demands are:
- eliminating the 3-day wait period for injured
- increasing benefits for injured and deceased workers; and
- expediting the claims process by hiring more front-line staff at
Workers pointed out that the most drastic deterioration
of workplace compensation happened in 1993 when the Liberal
government of Frank McKenna passed Bill 55, which among other
things introduced the three-day waiting period, slashed the amounts
workers were entitled to receive and placed a heavier onus on injured
workers to prove that an injury or illness is work related.
These measures were similar to those that other
neo-liberal governments of the time passed, under the hoax that
monopolies were paying "too much in premiums" to the compensation
system, that this prevented the companies from investing in the economy
and creating jobs and that the compensation system was liable to
collapse if these anti-worker measures were not taken. What was to
become known as the "unfunded liability" of the compensation system was
a way of pushing injured workers into dire poverty and imposing all
kinds of arbitrary policies. These policies were deliberately designed
to deny them the compensation that belongs to them by right, making
their life more and more difficult. It meant that a lesser amount of
the new value that workers create and that is appropriated by the
monopolies would be put in the compensation system, freeing this value
to be used by the monopolies according to their whim. This introduced
an extreme imbalance into the compensation system that has only become
The demands of workers are aimed at restricting that
trend and these policies and improving the lives of the injured workers.
At the demonstration, CUPE New Brunswick President
Daniel Légère said that it was time now to reverse the
situation. "We're drawing the line in the sand now. It's time to push
spoke with Patrick Colford, President of the New Brunswick Federation
of Labour about the task force and Discussion Paper and what is
"While we are kind of happy that it seems they want the
input of New Brunswickers -- when you read the paper you get a sense of
bias toward the employers' sector," said Colford. "They talk about the
Rehab Centre, which is run by WorkSafeNB. They are saying that other
jurisdictions do not have such a centre and they want the rehab
services contracted out to private companies. For years they have been
talking about closing the Rehab Centre and they have actually cut its
funding. The centre is a one-stop shop for injured workers that
provides physical and psychological assistance. It should be maintained
in public hands and its funding should be increased. "
about the appeal process for claims that are being denied
by WorkSafeNB, saying, "We have that issue when claims are being denied
and people are appealing and they are very successful in having the
decisions of WorkSafeNB overturned. First the decisions were overturned
by a Board of referees. The employers were crying that too many appeals
were won and their rates were going up so an Appeals Tribunal was
created and still the workers are benefiting from these appeals. The
employers are complaining that this tribunal needs to be scrapped. They
do not want the Board of Referees, they do not want this, they just
want that the decisions of WorkSafeNB are binding when they deny
claims. That is not acceptable."
said, "We want the Task Force to do the work and
realize that the biggest issue that we've got is that workers are not
being heard and taken care of. In the 1990s when the fund was in
trouble we gave concessions and with the new changes they seem to want
to impose further concessions to injured workers. The workers'
compensation system in New Brunswick does not work for workers, it
works only for employers. That is the problem that needs to be
"Regulations Play an Important Role
in Safeguarding Our Communities"
The Ontario Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne is
currently trying to pass Bill 154, the Cutting Unnecessary Red
Tape Act, 2017, an omnibus bill that includes, buried deep in
the bill, Schedule 4, a section which is about gutting government
regulations. Workers' Forum recently talked to Fred Hahn,
President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario
which launched a public campaign to remove Schedule 4
from the omnibus bill. CUPE Ontario made a presentation on this matter
to the Ontario Standing Committee on Justice Policy and is calling on
the people of Ontario to join the campaign including sending
messages to their MPPs asking that Schedule 4 be removed from the
bill. For information on how to send a message and to get a sample
message, click here.
Workers' Forum: In your
presentation to the committee, you criticize the use of omnibus bills
to pass significant legislative changes that are buried deep in these
Fred Hahn: Yes. Omnibus bills
first and foremost are a problem. They are supposed to be, if used at
all, a way of cleaning up things that are all related. Instead, we know
that for more than 20 years, governments have used omnibus
legislation in a way it was never intended. This is a bill which
components of different pieces of legislation, like allowing printing
to happen by email instead of by letter, things that I suppose would be
appropriate for omnibus legislation, but in it, there is something new,
this Schedule 4, that we have focussed on. We believe that if that
legislation was independently brought as a separate piece of
legislation there would be much more scrutiny over it, so that was a
focus on our comment on Bill 154.
WF: What is your stand on
FH: With Schedule 4, the
government ensures that whenever any ministry adds any new regulation
or amends currently existing legislation, they have to look at the
costs associated with implementing that new or amended regulation, and
they would have to provide an offset for profit-making businesses to
the compliance cost of the new regulation. There is actually, believe
it or not, a regulation under this proposed legislation buried within
Bill 154 that suggests the government would have to offset every
dollar by $1.25. It does not say how exactly this "offset" is
going to work. Is it going to be a tax cut? Is it going to be a waiver
some regulations for businesses to offset this cost? Who knows. It
opens a dangerous door in legislation, not just for this government but
for future governments. Regulations, as we know, can be changed at will
by government without having to go through the legislature.
This is very much like the executive order issued by
Donald Trump in January which says that for every new regulation two
existing regulations must be taken away or gotten rid of. The
difference is that with the political brand that Trump represents it is
done very openly in the U.S. and the Trump administration is actually
presenting it publicly, while the Liberal government in Ontario is
hiding it in an omnibus bill.
This comes from the belief, that some in the business
community would like us to swallow, that regulations are bad, that they
are just red tape
that serves no purpose. Bill 154 is actually called Cutting
Unnecessary Red Tape Act, 2017. In fact when we are talking
about regulations, we also know that, for example, there are hundreds
of them under the Occupational Health and Safety Act that
safe at work. There are environmental regulations that prevent another
crisis like the one that happened in Walkerton. [In 2000 the
water supply of the small community of Walkerton in Ontario was
contaminated by a dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria, causing the
death of seven people and serious illness in thousands -- WF Note.]
The example of the Walkerton tragedy is incredibly
powerful. The inquiry into the deaths that happened at Walkerton
demonstrated that changes to regulations and a decrease in regulations
on water purification led directly to the E. coli outbreak in the water
system and people dying. In the aftermath of the tragedy, water
heavily regulated once again. We had many members in the municipal
water system who as employees did not meet these new standards but we
worked hard with the employers, saying they have to meet these
standards and you have to provide them with new training. The standards
are there for public safety. We wanted new training of people so
that they are clear about their obligations, how this stuff works, that
is the way to go forward. This is the most blatant example although I
am sure there are many others that demonstrate that regulations play an
important role in safeguarding our communities.
WF: What is the campaign that CUPE
Ontario is waging to get Schedule 4 removed?
FH: We issued a media release to
get public attention. We contacted journalists. We tried to get people
to pay attention to it. It has not been easy because the policy is
buried in the bill and framed as if there is nothing there, nothing to
worry about. We reached out to our coalition partners, especially our
coalition partners. With them we wrote a joint letter asking for
Schedule 4 to be removed. Anyone concerned about the environment
understands that the way to go forward into a green future is not just
through green initiatives or some sort of corporate agenda. Regulations
are required in order to safeguard the environment. Regulations
form the heart of how the legislation is implemented and interpreted.
We are also asking our members to send emails to their MPPs about these
issues. There is not much time for a broader campaign because the
legislation is scheduled to go for clause-by-clause review on Thursday
1. Bill 154 went for third reading
on October 30 and 31. It was voted on and carried November 1 and
becomes law after Royal Assent of the Lieutenant Governor.
In the debate at third reading on October 30, Minister of Economic
Development and Growth Brad Duguid referred to those expressing
concerns about the omnibus bill as "entirely off base." He did not
address the fundamental concern raised by CUPE Ontario, that because
regulations do not pass through the legislature, they can be easily
eliminated without any public scrutiny, never mind that Ontarians are
already sidelined from decision-making. Minister Duguid instead made
the issue one of "checks and balances through our whole system" that
would prevent any regulatory offset from "endanger[ing] people's
lives." This of course denies the people's experience with neo-liberal
governments that disempower the people and carry out anti-social
regulations as they please, in the name of high ideals such as job
creation, providing a competitive business environment, etc. This has
had actual and predictable negative consequences for the people.
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