Remember the Home Front

Remember the Home Front

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November 11 2022

Remember the Home Front

“If we win the wars at home…”

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During the world wars, organized workers, women, farmers and immigrants forged a democracy on the Home Front in the face of government repression, war profiteering, and political corruption.

The Battle of Bill 28

After the incredible strike of Ontario education workers on Friday, November 4, the news of a general strike spread like wildfire through the ranks of Ontario labour on Sunday, November 6. Rankandfile.ca in fact broke the news on Twitter that the OFL and CUPE were preparing the announcement on Monday at 10am.

With polls overwhelmingly favouring education workers and even supporting sympathy strikes, Doug Ford pre-empted the presumed general strike announcement with an offer to scrap Bill 28 in exchange for CUPE suspending its strike. Within a few hours, a Memorandum of Understanding was reached between the government and the union on the basis of Ford’s offer. The imposed contract and rights-violating provisions are dead and bargaining resumes. There are no reports of reprisals against strikers.

Without education workers defying the government’s dictatorial Bill 28, its imposed contract and penalties for striking would still be in place. This is the first major defeat inflicted on Ford by organized labour. However, CUPE returns to a very difficult bargaining situation.

Whether or not the Monday MOU was a “sell out” by the union leadership requires a real assessment of whether or not the general strike threat - which was never formally announced - was a genuine plan of action or more bluster and bluff.

Beyond the debate about the general strike, public support remains high for CUPE and the union is rock solid. Wider ranks of organized labour have been inspired by CUPE’s tenacity and level of militancy. As a result, there’s a new fighting mood building on months and months of inflation wage strikes. With Bill 28 dead according to the MOU, the focus returns to the fight over wages and the cost of living crisis.

Union activists on the workfloor, local executives, and labour council delegates are in the very favourable position to continue building the union organization we need for supporting CUPE education workers and preparing for another possible strike against Ford.

Stay tuned to Rankandfile.ca for an upcoming account and analysis of the “Battle of Bill 28”.

Graffiti on Mike Harris Jr.’s constituency office in Kitchener-Conestoga. Harris Junior complained on social media: “This is completely unacceptable, vandalism and intimidation have NO place in our society and these types of actions should not be tolerated.” Poor Junior.

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