Active and Retired Teachers and Their Unions Expand Support

President-elect of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA) René Jansen in de Wal,  presidents of OECTA units in Windsor-Essex and OECTA retirees visit Windsor Salt picket line

On May 31, the President-elect of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA) René Jansen in de Wal, as well as the presidents of the three OECTA units in Windsor-Essex and a number of OECTA retirees came to the picket line to let the striking workers at Windsor Salt in Windsor, Ontario know that teachers have their backs. The members of OECTA were joined by members of other local teacher affiliates. In his speech at the line, Jansen in de Wal made it crystal clear that teachers do not support the investments of their pension fund in the strikebreaking and union-busting activities of Stone Canyon Industries Holdings Inc. and are trying to find ways to hold the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan to account despite its officials' mealy-mouthed responses about being unable to interfere in the operation of the business while they sit on its management board. 

Jansen in de Wal raised the issue of the Environmental, Social and Governance filters that are supposed to prevent the fund from investing in companies that are against the values of the plan's members. "How does a company like Stone Canyon, a union busting company, get through your filters? That's completely unacceptable. They don't have a good answer for that. But, we made clear to say someone on their watch didn't do their job, because that's not supposed to happen. Companies like that shouldn't be in the portfolio because it reflects on teachers. It doesn't reflect our values. It doesn't reflect what we care about," he said.

On June 2, all the presidents, chief negotiators, and other delegates to the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) Provincial Council from the Federation's 37 districts across Ontario rose in solidarity with the Windsor Salt workers at a regular meeting of the Council and did a financial collection of those gathered to send to the workers. Representatives of OSSTF District 9 from Windsor-Essex have consistently made the strike a matter of concern for the provincial union as D9 members are actively calling on the union to divest from Stone Canyon Industries Holdings Inc. as expressed in motions at their annual meeting, which were passed unanimously.

OSSTF provincial council rises in support of Windsor Salt workers, June 2, 2023

The same day, retired members of OSSTF in Windsor-Essex invited the president of Unifor Local 240 to their monthly breakfast to get updated on the strike and find out how best they could support. At the Active Retired Members' (ARM) breakfast, the retirees passed the hat and, on the spot, raised over $400 for the workers' strike fund and presented it along with a second donation from their organization, OSSTF-ARM Chapter 9, to Jodi Nesbitt, the president of Unifor Local 240. After the breakfast, OSSTF-ARM members led by their president, Bruce Awad, joined the striking salt workers on their picket line. There, they were able to witness firsthand some of the company's antics -- in this case, the sending of some 15 trucks to drive into and out of the evaporation facility's shipping and receiving area that particular day, which the workers say is merely to taunt them, given that little, if any, salt is being processed by the handful of managers inside.

This article was published in
Number 31 - June 12, 2023

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