On April 15, the Fight for $15 & Fairness officially launched across Ontario, with over 15 actions in 10 cities! Actions took place in Toronto, London, Peterborough, Hamilton, Ottawa, North Bay, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, and Oshawa. And throughout the day, people across the province emailed and tweeted the Minister of Labour and the Premier to say that it was time for $15 and Fairness, that it was time for decent work.
April 15 was a day of global action, with the Fight for $15 in the US organizing actions in over 200 cities across the US and solidarity actions in over 40 countries around the world, including Canada. Organizers with the Fight for $15 & Fairness teamed up with workers from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) at their actions targeting McDonald’s in 5 Ontario cities, to show their support for striking US workers.
In Toronto, hundreds of people came out for actions in support of decent work across the city. SEIU organized a successful rally at McDonald’s regional headquarters, showing their support for fast food workers around across North America.
The Fight for $15 & Fairness followed with an energetic rally at the Ministry of Labour. Workers organizing with the campaign handed out flyers and $15 & Fairness chocolate loonies, and got 600 signatures on a petition demanding decent work (available on our website here) to be sent to the Minister of Labour. We had inspiring speakers, including Sid Ryan from the OFL; David Anderson, a young worker with UNITE-HERE; Deb Henry, a grocery store clerk and UNIFOR member; Alastair Woods from the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario; Myles Magner from OPSEU; Dr. Jim Deutsch from Health Providers Against Poverty (HPAP); and Marta Jaramillo, a member of the Workers’ Action Centre. Mohammad Ali Aumeer got the crowd going with rhymes about precarious work, and the rally ended with a delegation going in to the Ministry of Labour to deliver a clock to Minister Flynn – saying “It’s Time For Decent Work”.
After the Ministry of Labour, the rally got on a bus and joined up with workers at the Pearson International Airport – the largest workplace in Canada with over 40,000 unionized and non-unionized workers – who organized an action to demand a $15 minimum wage, better working conditions, and respect from the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA). The Toronto Airport Workers’ Council, which brings together unions representing 20,000 workers at the airport, organized leafletting actions throughout the morning and then brought workers out to a rally and march.
Check-in clerks, security guards, grounds crew, flight attendants, and porters held a lively demonstration in front of Terminal 1 Departures. The rally heard speeches from the Airport Workers’ Council representative, the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, NDP MP Peggy Nash, and an organizer with the Fight for $15 & Fairness campaign. As we marched from one end of the Terminal to the other, we made stops along the way to hear from workers about job insecurity and contracting out, low wages, and lack of benefits. Their message was loud and clear: airport workers take care of people, but the GTAA does not take care of workers.
News coverage from Toronto: http://globalnews.ca/news/1940064/minimum-wage-protests-held-in-ontario-and-across-north-america/
Around the province, organizers and members of the Fight for $15 & Fairness organized rallies, solidarity actions, and community events in support of the fight for decent work. In London, organizers with the London Common Front and the London and District Labour Council set up in front of a Rexall drugstore to distribute information and get petitions signed.
Our friends at the Peterborough Workers’ Action Centre and the Peterborough & District Labour Council joined forces with SEIU at their rally outside McDonald’s, along with UNIFOR and OPSEU members, and made this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxKNUPnKnc0&feature=youtu.be
News coverage from Peterborough: http://www.chextv.com/2015/04/15/demand-to-supersize-wages-at-fight-for-15-rally/
In Ottawa, ACORN members rallied for a federal $15 Minimum wage, as part of their wage sector campaigns, with over 60 people in attendance at the PMO’s office at 80 Wellington. They received press in the Ottawa Metro, the Ottawa Citizen and from two freelance journalists. Allies in support included OPSEU, ODLC, PSAC, SAA, Unitarians for Social Justice, SEIU local 2, CUPW and more.
In Waterloo, the Alliance Against Poverty and the Waterloo & District Labour Council organized a lively action in Waterloo Town Square, getting signatures on petitions and handing out material about the Fight for $15 & Fairness.
News coverage from Waterloo:
On the steps of City Hall in Thunder Bay, the day started with a rally organized by Poverty Free Thunder Bay and the Thunder Bay & District Labour Council. Speakers talked about fairness in the workplace and the struggle to get by on minimum wage. Participants then joined an action organized by SEIU in front of McDonald’s. You can watch an interview with organizers here:
Outside of a Tim Horton’s in Oshawa, We Are Oshawa and Durham Regional Labour Council organized a rally to show their support for fairness at work and the fight for $15. www.weareoshawa.ca
In Hamilton, SEIU organized a rally in front of McDonald’s as part of the global day of action for the Fight for $15 and in solidarity with the other actions happening across the province. Watch the news coverage here: http://www.chch.com/rallying-for-15-minimum-wage/
To close out the day, the Sudbury Workers’ Education and Advocacy Centre (SWEAC) organized a community dialogue on precarious work and the upcoming review of labour legislation being conducted by the government of Ontario.
On April 14, the Nipissing Faculty Association and the North Bay & District Labour Council organized a forum on precarious work to mark the launch of the Fight for $15 & Fairness. The discussion featured a variety of voices on issues of precarious work and poverty, including representatives from the Sudbury Workers’ Education and Advocacy Centre.
And on April 23, Raise the Wage Guelph will be organizing a forum about the Fight for $15 & Fairness to build support locally for the campaign.
Fight for $15 & Fairness strategizes to build a movement across Ontario
On the heels of a successful day of protest across the province, organizers and allies of the Fight for $15 & Fairness came together for a full day of strategizing and action planning on April 17. We were very fortunate to have friends visiting from the Fight for $15 in the US, to share their insights and experience and give us first-hand report-backs from the April 15 actions in their cities. Our guests were Jessica Davis, a McDonald’s worker from the Fight for $15 Chicago, and Rick Ross, from the Fight for $15 Seattle and SEIU Local 775. Jessica and Rick motivated us with their inspiring stories of organizing mass mobilizations with workers and we are so grateful that they travelled so far after such a busy week to spend some time with organizers from across Ontario!
Participants from our strategy meeting then went on to take part in the Ontario Common Front’s Anti-Poverty Assembly on April 17 and 18, which featured Jessica and Rick as speakers along with other progressive voices from a diversity of movements. The Assembly included roundtable discussions on how to strengthen the connections between various anti-poverty campaigns, including the Fight for $15 & Fairness.
It was an action-packed week, and an amazing way to launch the Fight for $15 & Fairness and build our momentum for the year ahead! Get involved in the action – visit our website for news and updates, and stay tuned for the next action to Fight for $15 & Fairness in your community!