TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 24, 2012) -
Dear Premier McGuinty,
Two weeks ago, Ontario's labour leaders approached your government, in a gesture of good will, with the end goal of supporting local settlements while circumventing draconian legislation like Bill 115. Unfortunately, your government undermined these discussions before they could get started.
First, your crass political decision to use labour talks as a flimsy excuse to prorogue the Legislature and deflect attention from the power plant scandal betrayed the good will of labour leaders and closed the opportunity for constructive dialogue.
Second, despite your stated goal to hold the line on public sector wages and curtail the deficit, your government went far further by stripping school teachers and support staff of their most basic and democratic right to collective bargaining. Your refusal to reconsider this ill-thought and undemocratic attack on workers has made it impossible for labour leaders, in good conscience, to continue talks with your government.
Finally, your decision to betray the trust of every Ontarian by shutting down the Legislature has left the government in disarray and undermined your own ability to deal effectively with Labour.
You have no mandate to impinge on broader public sector workers or to over-ride their negotiations with official bargaining agents - which includes school boards, hospitals, public utilities, child care centres, long-term care facilities, among others. The only way forward for Ontario workers is to continue local negotiations with their employers - which are often not the Government of Ontario - to achieve fair settlements that respect workers and protect Ontario's public services. During this process, we expect your government to refrain from invoking the draconian powers that you so wrongfully seized through Bill 115 and to respect the right of Ontario workers to negotiate collective agreements through bargaining.
On behalf of over one million unionized workers in Ontario, I am calling on your government to immediately reconvene the Ontario Legislature and put every Member of Provincial Parliament back to the work of serving the interests of Ontarians. Hanging in the balance are important initiatives to improve Ontario's labour laws, put an end to gas-and-dash fatalities, revamp social assistance, and much more.
With Ontario's unemployment rate at eight percent and nearly half of all Ontarians struggling to get by with less, the time has never been greater for clear and responsible action from our government.
President, Ontario Federation of Labour