Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

February 22, 2011 16:11 ET

Ontario Federation of Labour: McGuinty’s Attack on Transit Workers’ Rights is Lifted Straight out of the Republican Playbook

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 22, 2011) - The McGuinty Government announced plans today to introduce legislation that would essentially strip the collective bargaining rights of TTC employees, including the right to withhold their labour. This move follows the controversial union-busting tactics of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker that resulted in over 80,000 protesters taking to the streets of Madison.

"Premier McGuinty is playing right into the hands of Rob Ford and Tim Hudak," said Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). "Trying to be more conservative than the Conservatives will lose progressive electoral support and bolster a new Harris-style government under Tim Hudak."

Responding to a request from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, Premier McGuinty tabled legislation to declare the TTC an "essential service" and strip transit employees of the right to strike. This move was made despite the fact that the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) had already agreed to take the strike option off the table to the current round of bargaining.

"The Ford Administration made it perfectly clear that breaking trade unions is at the top of its priority list. He wants to get rid of decent city jobs, privatize public services and leave the residents who benefit from them high and dry," said Ryan. "It is shameful to see Premier McGuinty rupturing his relationship with unions in order to do the dirty work of Ford and Hudak."

McGuinty's move closely mirrors that of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican who reportedly received big bucks from Tea Party backers. Walker contrived a budget deficit based on tax cuts and then sought wage and benefit concessions from public employees. Despite the Wisconsin unions' acceptance of the state's budget demands, Walker sought to strip the workers of their collective bargaining rights. In Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford is forging ahead with plans to contract out public services and eliminate the right to strike, despite the demonstrated savings of public services and a guarantee that the public won't face an inconvenient work stoppage. 

"We aren't going to sit idly by while good paying jobs and public services are being destroyed. On April 9, workers, environmentalists and community members are going to start pushing back against Ford's aggressive agenda with a massive day of protest that is designed to also set the stage for October's provincial election," said Ryan. "McGuinty is making the wrong political choice in taking the side of Ford and Hudak over working families."

The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 Ontario unions and over one million members.

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