·  The Hamilton Spectator

Most unions don’t support Doug Ford

The following opinion column, co-authored by OFL President Patty Coates, USW Ontario Director Myles Sullivan and IAMAW Canadian General Vice-President David Chartrand, was published by the Hamilton Spectator.

Make no mistake about it — the majority of unions and workers support Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP in this election. The suggestion by Doug Ford that unions are lining up behind him is absurd and patently untrue.

We know this because our organizations represent approximately one million Ontario workers. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and the United Steelworkers union (USW), are three large unions and federations that endorse the NDP. And we’re not the only ones.

The Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union (OPSEU), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE Ontario), the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) have also endorsed the Ontario NDP.

Union members make their own voting decisions. But we know that many union members are voting NDP because it’s in their best interest, as the party of working people since its inception in 1961, not just when it’s convenient in 2022.

After years of Liberal and Conservative union-bashing, the Ontario NDP will make it easier for people to form and join unions, amplifying workers’ voices and making workplaces safer. This week, the Ontario NDP made its support for workers clear when Horwath announced card check certification, which would allow workers to form a union if 55 per cent of employees at a job site sign union cards. This reduces employer intimidation and other factors that prevent workers from getting the representation they desire.

There’s a lot at stake in this election. Ford’s Conservatives were a disaster during the pandemic, with the worst rate of death in long-term care in the first wave of COVID-19. They attacked collective bargaining rights with Bill 124. Ford dragged his heels on child care, making Ontario the last province to sign the $10-a-day deal with the federal government.

We also know that the Liberals aren’t the answer. They froze hospital budgets and entrenched hallway medicine.

As the Official Opposition, Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP have proven they’re in it for working people. New Democrat MPPs fought Ford’s education cuts, demanded the repeal of Bill 124 and brought forward legislation for permanent paid sick days.

If elected, the party will introduce a $20 minimum wage, make long-term care public and not-for-profit, bring back rent control and return the WSIB surplus to injured workers, instead of corporations.

The NDP will bring in anti-scab legislation to stop companies from hiring replacement workers during strikes and lockouts. The Ontario NDP will create Ontario Benefits to cover all workers including those in part-time, casual, app-based or contract jobs to ensure stable health and dental benefits.

As premier, Horwath will enforce and strengthen the Employment Standards Act, to ensure workers can’t be fired without cause. The NDP will also be a partner in government that will ensure the Occupational Health and Safety Act is enforced.

The Ontario NDP has the strongest policies to protect and improve our valued public health-care system system and not stealthily give it away to private profiteers.

Working people can’t afford to fall for Ford’s false promises. Workers deserve better pay, better access to unions and decent work. The Ontario NDP is ready to work to fix the damage done by decades of Liberals and Conservatives.

It’s time we did better in Ontario. Unions and working people are proud to support Horwath and the Ontario NDP as the best choice in this election.

- Patty Coates is president, Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). Myles Sullivan is director, United Steelworkers District 6 (Ontario) (USW). David Chartrand is Canadian general vice-president, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW).

View the opinion column in the Hamilton Spectator

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