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!
On April 15, workers across Ontario and across North America will be out on the streets to demand decent work. Workers will be walking off the job in over 100 US cities, with solidarity actions in 40 countries around the world, in their Fight for $15.
We will be launching the Fight for $15 & Fairness in Ontario as part of this growing movement. Over 12 actions will be taking place in 10 cities across the province.
In Toronto there will be actions all over the city. SEIU workers will be at McDonald’s headquarters on Don Mills Road in solidarity with the Fight for $15 global day of action and the workers that will be walking off the job in over 100 cities in the US. The Fight for $15 & Fairness campaign will be rallying in front of the Ministry of Labour to send a message to the government that that it’s time for decent work. And we will be joining workers at Pearson International Airport, where Unifor, CUPE, Teamsters, PSAC and others will be demanding a $15 minimum wage.
All day, across the province, people will be joining the movement by calling, emailing, and tweeting the Minister of Labour to say that it’s time for $15 and Fairness!
Join the movement. Join us on April 15!
WHEN: Wednesday, April 15, 12:30pm to 1pm
WHERE: Ministry of Labour, 400 University Avenue, Toronto
Other events happening across Ontario:
11:30 am to 12:30 pm
Location: McDonald’s Canada Headquarters, 1 McDonald’s Place (https://goo.gl/maps/Ax4rh)
Organized by Service Employees International Union Local 1
12:30 pm to 1:00 pm
Location: Ministry of Labour, 400 University Avenue
Media contact: Pam Frache cell: 416-578-3472.
Organized by Toronto-area members of the Fight for $15 & Fairness
2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Location: Pearson International Airport
Media contact: Sean Smith, cell: 416-277-1242
Organized by the Toronto Airport Workers’ Council
8:00 am to 9:00 am
Location: McGillivray Square, City Hall, 500 Donald St. E.
Media contact: Terri Lynne Carter 807-632-4442
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Location: McDonald’s, 770 Memorial Ave.
Media contact: Candace Shirk 807-626-0480
Organized by Poverty Free Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay & District Labour Council, Service Employees International Union Local 1, and others
5:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Community dialogue on precarious employment: What is its impact on poverty and how can we improve the Employment Standards Act to create fair work practices.
Location: Laughing Buddha (private room), 194 Elgin Street
Media contact: Nicole Beaulieu [email protected]
Organized by the Sudbury Workers’ Education and Advocacy Centre (SWEAC)
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Location: Prime Minister’s Office, 80 Wellington Street
Media contact: Jill O’Reilly, 613-744-7228
Organized by ACORN Ottawa and allies
11:30 am to 12:30 pm
Location: McDonald’s, 978 Lansdowne Street
Media contact: Paul Brown 705-868-7426 or [email protected]
Organized by Service Employees International Union Local 1, Peterborough Workers’ Action Centre, Peterborough and District Labour Council, UNIFOR, Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Canadian Union of Public Employees, and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Location: McDonald’s, 151 Dundas Street (at Richmond)
Media contact: Patti Dalton 519-494-3901
Organized by the London Common Front and the London and District Labour Council
12:30 pm to 1:30 pm
Location: Tim Hortons, 17 Athol Street West (at Simcoe)
Media contact: Jim Freeman, President, Durham Region Labour Council cell: 905-431-5607.
Organized by We are Oshawa and Durham Region Labour Council
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Location: Waterloo Town Square, 75 King Street South
Media contact: Mark Xuereb, President, Waterloo Regional Labour Council cell: 519-588-0199.
Organized by the Alliance against Poverty and supported by the Waterloo Regional Labour Council
11:30 am to 12:30 pm
Location: McDonald’s, 50 Dundurn Street South
Organized by Service Employees International Union Local 1
5:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Location: University of Guelph, UTC-07, UC 103
Media contact: Peter Miller 226-500-3433
Organized by Raise the Wage Guelph
7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Forum on precarious employment and the Fight for $15 & Fairness
Location: North Bay Museum, Oak Street at Ferguson
Organized by the Nipissing University Faculty Association and North Bay and District Labour Council
The Ontario government has launched a review of the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act, during which it will undertake “consultations on the changing nature of modern workplaces”. Members of the Workers’ Action Centre have spent the past year, building upon previous research, identifying key problems workers are facing in the labour market and developing priorities for change. At this historic moment, WAC’s new report, Still Working on the Edge, brings workers’ voices, experiences and recommendations to this conversation, contributing knowledge that will be essential to updating Ontario’s labour legislation from the ground up.
Organizations from across Ontario are pleased with today’s announcement that the minimum wage is going up to $11.25 to keep up with inflation, but say the minimum wage is still too low to bring workers out of poverty.
The Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage organized across the province to have the minimum wage pegged to the cost of living. “This announcement confirms that indexing the minimum wage is crucial for keeping workers from falling further in to poverty,” says Anita Khanna, National Coordinator for Campaign 2000. “It’s important that the government has recognized that workers’ wages need to keep up with inflation, but much more needs to be done to bring Ontarians out of poverty.”
The Ontario government announced that the minimum wage will be increased from $11 to $11.25 an hour, effective October 1, 2015. However, there are still entire groups of workers who are exempted from the minimum wage, including students under the age of 18, liquor servers, and farmworkers. “While it’s essential that workers’ wages not continue to be clawed back by the rising cost of living, this announcement still leaves students and others earning a lower wage,” says Alastair Woods, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. “Ontario is the only province in this country that still pays students a lower minimum wage, and that is unacceptable. There should be no exemptions to the minimum wage – all workers should be protected equally by universal minimum standards.”
Adjustments for inflation are also made when calculating the low-income measure, and as a result, Ontario’s minimum wage still leaves someone working full time at least 16% below the poverty line. “Indexation is an important victory for workers,” says Deena Ladd, Coordinator at the Workers’ Action Centre. “But even with this increase, workers earning minimum wage cannot make ends meet for themselves and their families. If we want to bring workers out of poverty in Ontario, we need a $15 minimum wage.”
For more information, contact:
Anita Khanna, Campaign 2000: 416-788-3439
Alastair Woods, Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario: 647-378-8942
Deena Ladd, Workers’ Action Centre: 416-836-2379
Groups across Ontario say decent wages must include paid sick leave and a $15 minimum wage for all workers
Community groups and trade unions are hopeful that the Ontario government’s promise to review employment standards and labour law will result in meaningful improvements to work and wages across the province.
“It’s clear that current minimum employment standards are insufficient to provide workers with a pathway out of poverty,” said Alastair Woods, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. “We need to ensure that a $15 minimum wage applies to all workers in the province, regardless of the sector in which they work or the age or educational status of the workers.”
Despite the province’s minimum wage increase from $10.25 to $11.00 an hour in June 2014, students under the age of 18 earn only $10.30 and liquor servers earn only $9.55. Even with $11.00 an hour, the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage says that full-time minimum wage earners continue to fall more than 16% below the poverty line.
Nicole Beaulieu is the Executive Director of the Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre. According to Beaulieu: “At present, temp agency workers and part-time workers often receive lower pay than their directly-hired or full-time counterparts. The vision for decent wages must mean equal pay for equal work, otherwise employers will be tempted to displace full-time workers with part-time, temporary and casual ones.”
“Paid sick leave is another basic necessity that should be included in Ontario’s minimum employment standards,” said Patti Dalton, a London teacher and President of the London and District Labour Council. “Too many minimum wage earners are forced to work while they are sick, or when their children are unwell, because they cannot afford to lose pay due to illness. The evidence shows that providing a modest number of paid sick days would actually save money. That’s why we want the Ontario government to follow the lead of a number of US states by implementing at least five days of paid sick leave for all workers.”