Unifor Local 222 strongly endorsed the NDP in the upcoming Ontario election, at their general membership meeting April 5. Local 222 represents GM workers in Oshawa and 30 other bargaining units in Durham region. This action is a dramatic rejection of the “strategic voting” policy of Jerry Dias, National President of Unifor.
The motion that was presented and passed noted that the key planks of Andrea Horwath’s campaign platform were in the best interests of the members of Local 222 and their community. It mandated a detailed strategy to engage and mobilize the Local’s rank-and-file members. The motion called on Local 222 to:
- Mail a message to to every member of Local 222 highlighting the benefits of the NDP’s platform
- Invite local NDP candidates to address the Local’s membership meetings in May and June
- Print articles in the Local’s monthly publication, the Oshaworker
- Encourage members to participate in canvassing in the community
Local 222 members know that they have received strong backing from Oshawa MPP Jennifer French, especially during the 2016 auto bargaining. Meanwhile, autoworkers, like all workers across the province, have suffered from the policies of successive Liberal and Conservative governments. The Kathleen Wynne Liberals have privatized Hydro One – going even further than the Mike Harris Conservative government. Privatization has led to soaring hydro rates for workers, while the CEO of Hydro One gets a massive pay increase of $1.7 million dollars, to hit $6.2 million – a 37.8% increase in one year. The recent Liberal budget includes a backdoor scheme for the privatization of such key public assets as the TTC (ATU Local 113 has helped expose and publicize this reactionary plan. Notably, the Doug Ford Conservatives have the same policy on this issue as the Liberals.)
Autoworkers Discriminated Against by Liberal Regulation
The Liberals even had the arrogance to exclude autoworkers from the recent changes to labour standards in Ontario, knowing that their pal Jerry would go along. All other workers are now guaranteed 10 personal emergency leave days (PEL days), of which the first 2 must be paid. But autoworkers are limited to only 7 PEL days per year, and get no paid days at all, because of a Liberal regulation. As usual, the Liberals are doing favours for their friends, the wealthy owners of the immensely profitable auto companies. Shamefully, Dias was a member of the “special advisory panel” along with the corporate executives, that agreed the poor auto companies needed this concession. This is on top of Jerry bargaining two-tier contracts that have new workers doing the same job for $15 per hour less than other workers. New workers take 11 years to get to equal wages, have inferior pensions, and have almost no post-retirement health care benefits.
Make it Count – for the NDP!
The Liberals and the Conservatives are both Bay Street parties – they are bought and paid for by corporate owners and financiers. They have fundamentally the same policies. The biggest threat in promoting “strategic voting” is that it is designed to confuse and mislead workers about the policy of the Liberal party. The strategic voting hucksters want to convince us that we should vote for the Liberals “to stop the Conservatives”. But what workers really need, is to fight for our own political demands and interests. We will never be served by electing parties that represent our adversaries, the corporate elite. Unifor’s official policy for the Ontario election is “Make it Count“, and they have mailed every Unifor member in Ontario a flyer that studiously avoids identifying which party would best represent us as workers. You have to wonder which side Jerry Dias is on. Actually, you don’t have to wonder – he makes it clear time and again that he is on the side of the Liberal Party, not on the side of the workers.
Most recently Jerry was quoted by the National Post praising the Liberal’s budget. They threw him a bone – as a reward for undermining the Canadian Labour Congress – a rule change that he can pretend supports his jingoistic attacks on international unions. As Sid Ryan said, “Bob White would turn in his grave to see The Financial (Com)Post, Toronto Sun, Unifor leadership and the Liberals, all on the same page”.
Support Working Class Politics
Local 222 is showing the way to dump “strategic voting” in the garbage bin where it belongs. We have to get rid of union leaders who believe in class collaboration, instead of fighting for workers. More Unifor locals need to take matters into their own hands, and stop blindly following the lead of Jerry Dias and his cronies.