THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 10, 2012) - Attendees to the Ontario Liberal leadership debate in Thunder Bay were greeted by local members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), who are calling on leadership candidates to respect workers' democratic rights to collectively negotiate employment agreements.
Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario, said the greatest concern is Bill 115, which overrides fair collective bargaining processes in the school board sector that have worked for decades.
"We are here to deliver a message to all the candidates - we want a commitment, from whoever wins, to repeal Bill 115, and to abandon any plans for any legislation that threatens our democratic right to free collective bargaining," she said. "The province has created an unnecessary crisis in our schools, choosing to fight us instead of talk with us. Our members are at bargaining tables every day, working to find solutions. The government's intrusion threatens these efforts and the services our members provide."
Members distributed postcards highlighting the threat of Bill 115 and listing 15 widely enjoyed employment standards that were first achieved through collective bargaining.
"Protecting worker's basic rights to collectively negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment matters to everyone, whether or not you are in a union," noted Rennick. "From something as historical as the weekend to something as recent as extensions to parental leave, many benefits now enshrined in law were first gained through collective bargaining."
CUPE members plan to be a presence at leadership candidate debates around the province to draw attention to what is seen as an unprecedented attack on democratic collective bargaining rights that have been in place for decades.