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OCUFA joins labour coalition challenging constitutionality of Ford government’s violation of workers’ rights

/EIN News/ -- Toronto, Jan. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) has voted to join ten unions representing more than 250,000 Ontario workers to launch a coordinated Charter challenge against the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act – formerly Bill 124. This Ford government legislation unduly interferes with the rights of workers to free and fair collective bargaining. It threatens pay equity and benefits for contract faculty and other marginalized workers, and will erode the foundations of Ontario’s important public services – including our outstanding public education system.

“This legislation violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and cannot be allowed to stand,” said Rahul Sapra, President of OCUFA. “Ontario’s faculty will work shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues across the public sector to ensure this unfair legislation is struck down.”

Ontario’s university faculty and academic librarians firmly believe in the right to free and fair collective bargaining. It is through this process that equity is fostered; ensuring that good jobs and fair pay are provided to traditionally under-compensated groups, including women-identified, racialized, and contract faculty. In addition, OCUFA will be making the case that this legislation undermines university autonomy and independence by imposing a province-wide regime of bargaining.

The joint Charter challenge has been launched by a coalition of unions, coordinated by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), representing workers across the broader public sector, including: AMAPCEO – Ontario’s Professional Employees; the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE Ontario); the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE); the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 636; the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC); the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC); the Service Employees International Union (SEIU Healthcare); the Society of United Professionals (IFPTE) Local 160; the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 175; and the United Steelworkers (USW).

Ford’s attack on the rights of public sector workers is part of a broader anti-worker agenda as evident by his earlier actions that reduced Ontario’s minimum wage and stripped away basic employment rights from the province’s most vulnerable workers.

“Doug Ford doesn’t believe in fair labour laws or workers’ rights,” said Sapra. “He has manufactured a fiscal crisis to create a race to the bottom where Ontario workers have fewer and fewer rights and Ontario’s public services have fewer and fewer resources.”

Ontario currently has the lowest per-student and per-capita funding in the country and constraining collective bargaining rights will only deepen that crisis. OCUFA will work with our colleagues across the education and broader public sector to hold the Ford government to account and defend the rights of all workers to fair pay, safe working conditions, and job security. We will challenge Ford’s attacks on workers’ rights in the courts and work in our communities to show the Ford government that Ontarians reject its austerity agenda.

Ben Lewis
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations 
416-306-6033
BLewis@ocufa.on.ca