We have our rights back – and we are going back to the bargaining table
I want you to understand what happened today, how it happened, and where we head from here. I committed to open and transparent communications with you – and I wish that there had been time to share with you directly first.
Whatever else you’re hearing today, I want you to know one thing: today was a victory. It’s not the final victory, we still don’t have the deal you need. We have more to do, but you should feel proud. We stared down the biggest legislative attack against worker rights in this province – and we won.
Here are the main takeaways from today’s announcements:
1. The government is repealing Bill 28 in its entirety; that means we have our bargainingrights and strike rights back and we can bargain locally again
2. We are collapsing our protest lines and returning to work tomorrow
3. Our central bargaining committee is returning to the table immediately in a better position to secure the gains you need
How did we get here?
Yesterday afternoon, we announced that we’d be holding a press conference with labour leaders representing 3 million workers in the private and public sectors. That show of union solidarity is unprecedented – and it scared the government.
I’ll repeat that: you started a movement that united labour leaders and shook Doug Ford.
In response, they announced they’d be repealing Bill 28. We got a commitment from the government, in writing, that they would introduce legislation to repeal the bill in its entirety. It will be as if the legislation never existed. Your power and show of worker force set a record for the fastest repeal of legislation.
What comes next?
You’re heading back to work and we’re heading back to the bargaining table.
We retain the ability to walk off the job again if we serve another 5 days notice – this time, legally. We have unprecedented support from parents, community members, and other unions.
Most importantly, we are in a stronger position to secure the deal you need. Our mobilization can’t end.
We’re not standing down, we’re standing by.
And if this government doesn’t come back to the table with a genuine offer, if they still refuse to budge, we need to get right back on the line to ramp up the pressure.
At the press conference this morning, union leader after union leader celebrated you and your movement. Your power is worth celebrating.
We won our rights back. That wasn’t handed to us. We fought for them. We took them. This was an unprecedented show of worker power.
But I’m not ready to celebrate yet. And I know you’re not. I know this was never only about Bill 28 for you. This was about staying out of poverty. This was about having enough staff and resources to do our jobs well. This was about respect from the government.
We have not won that yet. That’s our next fight and that fight continues.
There were real risks if we didn’t accept the de-escalation presented by the government. If we allowed the legislation to stand, we’d have an imposed contract with wages well below inflation and concessions to sick leave and job security. The legislation would also have stripped away your local bargaining abilities. The strike would have been declared illegal and the government would have been in a position to levy fines. And we faced the possibility of loosing public support if we were seen to be responsible for keeping kids out of school.
That’s what we risked if we didn’t take the deal. We didn’t give up anything by accepting it – and we’re in a better position for it.