September 11, 2017

Legislative Assembly Resumes, let’s step up the pressure!

The Toronto Star published a heart-breaking expose revealing the reckless treatment of workers by temporary staffing agencies, and how much the law allows it. Reporter Sara Mojtehedzadeh went undercover to investigate the daily realities faced by temp workers, including dangerous working conditions. This must-read story reveals how Ontario companies use temp agencies to avoid their responsibilities as employers. Amina Diaby is one of three temp agency workers killed at Fiera Foods.

“Amina Diaby died last year in an accident inside one of the GTA’s largest industrial
bakeries where, the company says, worker safety is its highest concern.
The 23-year-old was one of thousands of Ontarians who have turned to temporary employment agencies to find jobs that often come with low pay and little training for sometimes dangerous work.”

Clearly we have a long way to go to ensure decent working conditions for temp agency workers and hold employers accountable. That’s why we are re-doubling our efforts to win the strongest possible labour law reform via Bill 148, and beyond. If you are outraged by this expose, join the author Sara Mojtehedzadeh at the public forum on Friday September 15 (see below) and learn more about the changes our communities need.

PUBLIC FORUM: Toronto, September 15

Fighting for Decent Work: from Bill 148 to the next election!
6:30 PM – 9:30 PM  | Hart House, University of Toronto |
 Click here for a map
Our movement has pressured the government to respond to our demands for decent work, and legislation (Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act) has been proposed to make many important changes that will benefit workers across Ontario! We are coming together to celebrate the progress we’ve made to this date, strategize about ways to resist the big business lobby’s efforts to weaken the bill. Join us! Now is the time to increase the pressure, and mobilize to win better laws through and beyond Bill 148.

The event will be moderated by Toronto Star reporter Sara Mojtehedzadeh, featuring:
– Gilary Massa on challenging racism and Islamophobia
– Navneet Aujla on justice for temporary agency workers
– Alia Karim on students and the fight for decent work
– Deena Ladd on winning $15 & Fairness in Ontario

To RSVP and share on Facebook, click here. This event has free admission. Don’t miss this important conversation, please help us spread the word on Facebook and forward this email to your friends.

Update on Bill 148 – Push now for stronger equal pay language

Despite the attacks of corporate lobbyists, in mid-August, most of the substantive elements of Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, were maintained during the first round of amendments August 21. And thanks to the efforts of our labour-community partners across Ontario, we even won some (very) modest improvements. Unfortunately, there were also some important setbacks, which we must be ready to fight, now that the Legislative Assembly has resumed. 

The first setback consists of amendments to the scheduling provisions of Bill 148 that will give employers loopholes to avoid the fairer scheduling provisions under the proposed legislation. The second setback consists of an amendment to the equal pay provisions of the bill that define seniority through the number of hours worked, not the date of hire. This provision will entrench inequality between full-time and part-time workers, defeating the intent of equal pay. It could also undermine collective agreements where seniority is based on the date of hire, not the number of hours worked.

Amendments put forward by the NDP to eliminate the sub-minimum wage rates for students under the age of 18 and liquor servers were defeated, as were amendments that would have increased paid vacation and emergency leaves for workers. However, an amendment calling for a separate, unpaid leave for workers who self-identify as victims of sexual violence or domestic abuse was supported by all parties. 

Unfortunately, there was no movement to strengthen the language provided in Bill 148 to ensure equal pay for part-time and full-time workers, and for temporary agency workers. Strong language on this issue is crucial for addressing the gender wage gap because women are by far the greatest proportion of part-time workers – a consequence of their still shouldering the bulk of family care-giving. Strong equal pay language would also be a body blow to the temporary staffing industry that contributes to precarious employment and undermines unions’ ability to organize.

Bill 148 could be tabled in Legislative Assembly for 2nd Reading (consideration) any day now and parliamentary procedure dictates it must go to Committee for (further) consultation and amendments. While this additional round of consultations creates another platform for the Big Business lobby to advance its agenda, it also gives workers another chance to mobilize to improve the equal pay language and stop the previously noted concessions. 

We don’t know the precise day Bill 148 will be tabled; nor do we know when, or for how long, it will be considered by the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. This makes our work in the weeks ahead all the more important. Let’s use the fall to increase the pressure on our Members of Provincial Parliament, and let them know that our communities expect them to deliver the strongest possible labour legislation.

UPCOMING EVENTS: Join one near you!
There are numerous actions and events being organized across Ontario! If you don’t see an action in your area, let us know how we can help you get one going!

Monday, September 11

Workers’ Comp Is A Right – Campaign Launch
11:30 AM – 1:30 PM  | 720 Spadina Ave, Suite 202 | Click here for a map
Join us for the launch of Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups’ (ONIWG) province-wide campaign, featuring a community forum. When workers are injured or made ill on the job, they have a right to full compensation. They have a right to be treated with dignity and respect. Currently, the cutting edge of austerity in Ontario means those rights are being violated. ONIWG is launching a new campaign to win fairness for injured workers with three key demands for systemic change:
• No cuts based on phantom jobs!
• Listen to injured workers’ treating healthcare professionals!
• Stop cutting benefits based on “pre-existing conditions”!
To RSVP and share on Facebook, click here. Food will be provided at the event, please register on the Facebook page to let the organizers know you are coming.

Tuesday, September 12

Let’s Rise – Unite Here Local 75 Rally & March, and the Make it Fair After-Party
4:30 PM – 6:30 PM  | Renaissance Toronto Hotel Downtown | Click here for a map
Come join Toronto’s famous hospitality workers on our Social Justice Red Carpet as we celebrate the stars of our city’s hospitality industry! While we fight to win stronger labour laws for workers across Ontario, bad bosses are doing everything they can do intimidate workers and deter them from organizing. Come out to the Rally at Renaissance Toronto Downtown and let’s march together to the Soho House Toronto & Shangri-La Hotel!
To RSVP and share on Facebook, click here.

POSTPONED: Toronto-Wide Organizing Meeting for $15 & Fairness 
Instead, of our usual bi-weekly organizing meeting, let’s all join the UNITE HERE Local 75 march and rally (see above). But we’ll see you all on Friday, September 15 between 6:30 pm and 9:00 pm at the public forum with Toronto Star reporter Sara Mojtehedzadeh, and other special guests.

Wednesday, September 13

FORUM – Liveable Wages: Separating Realty from Myth
6:00 PM – 7:30 PM  | 61 Charles Street, ROOM 151 on the 1st floor – UOIT’s Downtown Campus | Click here for a map
Join us for this panel discussion on why decent work and wages will strengthen our economy and create strong communities. We will discuss common misconceptions and out-dated analysis to separate myth from reality. Speakers include:
– Tiffany Balducci, President at Durham Northumberland CUPE District Council
– Pam Frache, Provincial Coordinator for the 15 & Fairness Campaign
– Malka, York University Food Service Worker that won $15 minimum wage after striking
– Mina Rajabi, Vice President of York Federation of Students
For more information, email: [email protected].
To RSVP and share on Facebook, click here.

Friday, September 15

PUBLIC FORUM: Fighting for Decent Work: from Bill 148 to the next election!
6:30 PM – 9:30 PM  | Great Hall – Hart House, University of Toronto |
 Click here for a map
Let’s get together to CELEBRATE the great work being done in our communities, chart next steps in the FIGHT for the strongest possible labour reform in Ontario, and show how our movement will UNITE to win decent work for all!
This event will be moderated by Toronto Star reporter Sara Mojtehedzadeh, featuring:
– Gilary Massa on challenging racism and Islamophobia
– Navneet Aujla on justice for temporary agency workers
– Alia Karim on students and the fight for decent work
– Deena Ladd on winning $15 & Fairness in Ontario
To RSVP and share on Facebook, click here. This event has free admission. Don’t miss this important conversation, please help us spread the word on Facebook!

Friday & Saturday, September 15 & 16

TORONTO – University of Toronto
Ontario Campus Assembly – $15 & Fairness 
Sept. 15 – 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM | Great Hall – Hart House – 7 Hart House Circle
Sept. 16 – 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM | Sidney Smith Building – 100 St. George Street
Calling all students, campus workers, faculty members! We are hosting our first Ontario-wide Campus Assembly in September. There are only a few spots left, register now for one or both days of the assembly by clicking here. The event will be taking place at the University of Toronto and together we will discuss the next steps to ensure that every campus is a $15 and Fairness campus as we fight to win the strongest possible labour legislation. While the event will be focused on campus organizing, everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate.

There will be workshops and discussions on:
– Beating the big business lobby
– Ending racism & Islamophobia
– Bargaining $15 & Fairness demands
– Winning fairness for contract faculty
– Starting from scratch and effective organizing
– Linking decent work and public health
– Uniting students, staff and faculty
– and much more!

To register for one or both days of the assembly:
To spread the word on Facebook, click here.

Saturday, September 16

Tabling at the South Asian Canadians Health and Social Services Picnic
12:00 PM – 3:00 PM  | Eldorado Park, 8520 Creditview Rd | Click here for a map
South Asian Canadians Health and Social Services (SACHSS) is having their second annual picnic and have invited us to come speak to the community about Bill 148. We know how important the link between work, income, and health is, and why our communities urgently need paid sick days, decent incomes and stable schedules to enjoy healthy lives. Come out and join the picnic!
To RSVP and share on Facebook, click here.

Thursday, September 21

Ottawa Fight for $15 & Fairness Organizing Meeting
6:30 PM – 7:300 PM  | 25OneCommunity, 251 Bank Street, 2nd Floor |
 Click here for a map
The Fight for $15 and Fairness Ottawa will be hosting another organizing meeting Sept. 21st! We don’t know when Bill 148 will go through and big business is using this opportunity to lobby the government to add loopholes to the legislation so they can avoid treating their workers fairly. Come help us plan out our upcoming outreach and organize against the business lobby backlash. All are welcome to attend as we always enjoy seeing new faces.
To RSVP and share on Facebook, click here.

OCAP Speaking Series: Winning Decent Incomes
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM  | Regent Park Community Ctr., 40 Oak St |
 Click here for a map
Why is social assistance so low? What lessons can we learn from the fight to raise minimum wage? How do we win decent incomes for everyone? Join us at the September Speakers Series to find out. Speakers include: Pam Frache, the Ontario Coordinator for the Fight for $15 and Fairness and Yogi Acharya, organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and the Raise the Rates campaign.
To RSVP and share on Facebook, click here. **This is a free event with a meal, childcare, wheelchair access and tokens.

Saturday, September 23

Activist Group Mixer Potluck
12:30 PM – 3:30 
PM |AKA Autonomous Social Ctr. 75 Queen St | Click here for map
In the interest of solidarity and creating networks, we thought it would be a good idea to get as many of Kingston’s local activist groups together as possible to meet, share some food, share some stories, and connect on the shared battles and challenges we face, as well as how best to support each other. If you are a member of a local group or are interested in learning about local groups, we’d love to have you there!
To RSVP and share on Facebook, click here.

The 7th Annual Toronto Disability Pride March
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM  | Queen’s Park to 99 Gerard St East | Click here for a map
From the organizers: “Why we’re Marching: To bring recognition of the struggles and value of people with disabilities as we fight against ableism and other forms of oppression; To be visible and show that we have a voice in our community and a right to be heard by taking to the streets; To celebrate and take pride in ourselves as a community of people with disabilities.” Help spread the word and come out on Saturday for the 7th annual march. The organizers are looking for marshalls and volunteers, please find out more here.
To RSVP and share on Facebook, click here.

Sunday, September 24

West Toronto Outreach Blitz – Parkdale wants $15 & Fairness!
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM  | Southeast corner of Queen & Jameson
 | Click here for a map
Are you ready for another fun outreach action to talk to Parkdale residents about the urgent need for $15 & Fairness in our community? Come out on September 24 to talk to our neighbours about what is at stake with Bill 148, and how we can continue putting pressure on our elected representatives to make sure that we win the best possible labour law reforms. We’ll have petitions, leaflets & posters ready to go, and together we’ll talk with passersby about the
To RSVP and share on Facebook, click here.

Tuesday, September 26

TALK: Lessons of the Fight for $15 in the Trump Era
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM  | York University, Ross Building S802 |
 Click here for a map
Labour organizer Jonathan Rosenblum will discuss the inside story of the first successful fight for $15. Just outside Seattle, an unlikely alliance of Sea-Tac airport workers, union and community activists, and clergy staged face-to-face confrontations with corporate leaders to unite a diverse, largely immigrant workforce in a struggle over power between airport workers and business and political elites. This talk will consider lessons from this campaign that may contribute to building a powerful, inclusive labour movement and enable workers to reclaim their power in the contemporary economy.
To RSVP click here, and to spread the word on Facebook, click here.

Fight for $15 – What’s Next?
Sept. 26, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM | Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street |
 Click here for a map
With Deena Ladd of the Workers’ Action Centre and Jonathan Rosenblum, former Fight for $15 organizer with SEIU and author of Beyond $15. – Immigrant workers, Faith activists and the revival of the labor movement. Sponsored by: The Toronto Labour Committee, Workers’ Action Centre, Global Labour Research Centre (York University), Toronto Airport Workers’ Council.

Wednesday, September 27

Town Hall Meeting: Why $15 & Fairness matters to our community
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM  | 1541 Jane St, North York | Click here for a map
Our movement has pressured the government to respond to our demands for decent work, and legislation has been proposed to make many important changes that will benefit all workers! Two of the three political parties are now confidently calling for higher wages and better laws. Unfortunately, the big business lobby is trying to undermine our movement by making far-fetched  claims that decent work and wages will harm our economy. Join us to talk about what $15 & Fairness means for our community.
To RSVP and share on Facebook, click here.

Sunday, October 1

Minimum wage adjustment takes effect 
Thanks to the work of community and labour activists across Ontario, in 2014, we won an increase to the minimum wage from $10.25 to $11.00 plus legislation that ensures the minimum wage will be adjusted each year on October 1 to keep up with rising prices. These annual adjustments are crucial in helping the minimum wage hold its original $11.00 value. This year, the adult minimum wage will change from $11.40 to $11.60. If we win a $15 minimum wage, as proposed in Bill 148, that wage will also be subsequently adjusted each year on October 1. Unfortunately, there are still sub-minimum wage rates (that are also adjusted annually) that we need to campaign hard to eliminate. Let’s keep the fight going!