December 07, 2018

What we won and why we keep fighting

As you know, the Ford government passed Bill 47 on November 21, 2018, despite overwhelming public opposition to the bill and by ignoring all evidence in support of stronger labour laws.

While Premier Ford rolled back significant improvements we had won last year with Bill 148, we succeeded in protecting many gains that will make a real difference in workers’ lives. This is thanks to you and thousands of others taking action!

Please read below to learn more about the reforms we've collectively protected by putting up resistance every step of the way:

  1. $14 minimum wage
    Through grassroots organizing we raised Ontario’s adult general minimum wage to $14 (from $11.60). This accomplishment transfers $3.4 billion from corporate profit to workers’ pockets – each and every year.

  2. Indexation
    Even though the minimum wage will be frozen again until October 1, 2020, we preserved future annual cost of living adjustments that will help prevent the minimum wage from falling further below the poverty line. This is an important win, considering the fact that each year that prices rise and wages don’t, workers experience a cut in their earning power.

  3. Job-protected emergency leave for all
    Before the $15 & Fairness campaign, 1.7 million workers did not have job security if they had to leave a shift due to illness, family emergency or other unplanned urgent situation. At the time, existing job-protected emergency leave only applied to workplaces with 50 or more workers. As a result, workers in smaller workplaces found themselves facing job loss or discipline if they had to deal with an emergency.

    Although the Ford government has reduced the overall number of job-protected days and restricted their use with Bill 47, we have been able to defend the access to these emergency days by all workers – regardless of the size of their employer. This provides protection for nearly 2 million workers in smaller (and often more precarious) workplaces.

  4. Misclassification still illegal under the law
    Misclassification is the term used to describe employers who wrongly classify their workers as independent contractors instead of employees. When this happens, workers lose their employment rights under the law and they also lose access to Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan, and more. Under Bill 148, misclassification became explicitly prohibited in Ontario.
    While Bill 47 puts the onus on the worker to prove misclassification, it still retains the prohibition under the Act.

  5. Better protections for temporary agency workers:

    -  In 2013 we won better protection for temp agency workers when wages go unpaid.
    Both the temp agency and the client company are held responsible for any unpaid wages, overtime or public holiday pay. This important protection remains.

    -  Temp agency workers continue to be entitled to notice or pay in lieu of notice if a contract that was supposed to last at least three months is terminated early.
    We have retained this modest, but important penalty for employers who disregard the rights of temp agency workers.

    -  Joint responsibility for workplace health and safety.
    Prior to our campaign, corporations used temp agencies as a way to avoid their obligations under the workers' compensation and health and safety acts. In other words, because the temp agency is considered to be the official employer of temp agency workers, the client company was not legally or financially responsible for workplace accidents.

    In 2018, due to public pressure, the government finally moved to hold client companies (where temp agency employees actually work) legally and financially responsible for injury and accident costs and liability under workers’ compensation. This protects temp agency workers and removes an important financial incentive for employers to use agency workers in the first place. We’ve retained this change.

  6. Limited protections against contract flipping
    We’ve kept the Bill 148 provision that protects workers when a building services contract expires and a new contract is awarded to a different service provider.

    This protection against contract flipping applies to cleaning, security, and food service contracts so that, in the event that an existing contract expires, the wage, working conditions and union protections previously in place are extended to the workers employed by the new service provider.

  7. Three weeks paid vacation after 5 years
    We protected the right to an extra week of paid vacation, after five years with the same employer, which we had won with Bill 148.

  8. Domestic violence leave
    Domestic or sexual violence leave is a job-protected leave of absence that we won with Bill 148 and maintained. It provides up to 10 days and 15 weeks in a calendar year of time off to be taken for specific purposes when an employee or an employee’s child has experienced or been threatened with domestic or sexual violence. The first five days of leave taken in a calendar year are paid, and the rest are unpaid.

  9. A stronger, more united movement
    Our movement has fundamentally changed the conversation about workplace rights.
    77% of Ontarians support paid sick leave and a majority of Ontarians support equal pay for equal work, fairer scheduling rules and greater access to union protections. In fact, two-thirds of Ontarians – including over 60% of small business owners and 42% of Conservative voters – support a $15 minimum wage.

    When workers fight for these rights in the workplace now, they are going to have more public support. This lays the foundation for strong collective bargaining campaigns for unionized workers. It will also help non-unionized workers fight wrongful dismissal when employers try to roll back wage increases and paid sick days that are in place.

But perhaps our most important achievement is the exponential growth of our decent work movement across Ontario with roots in diverse communities, campuses, workplaces, and neighbourhoods.

By building on this momentum, there is no doubt we are going to be much better situated to make $15 and Fairness a reality for every worker in Ontario.

Please join us in the upcoming days to celebrate our collective hard work and stay organized to hold the Ford government to account for their betrayal to the people of Ontario.

See below for events happening next week, and visit our website regularly to see the latest listings.

Saturday, December 8th
A Celebration of Resistance
Saturday, 7:00PM - 10:00PM - ETFO Provincial Office, 136 Isabella St
Please RSVP or share on Facebook

Monday, December 10th
Keep Fighting for $15: Beyond Bill 47 Organizing meeting
Monday, 6:00PM - 8:00PM - ATU Local 107, 1005 King St E
Please RSVP or share on Facebook

Monday, December 10th to 14th (Week of Action)

Workers’ Comp is a Right! Provincial Week of Action
Actions all week across Ontario from Toronto to Thunder Bay
Please RSVP or share on Facebook

Tuesday, December 11th
Holiday Social and Strategy Session
Tuesday, 6:30PM - 8:00PM - Fox and Feather Pub and Grill, 283 Elgin Street
Please RSVP or share on Facebook

Saturday, December 15th
Brampton Social: Celebration of Resistance
Saturday, 1:00PM - 3:00PM - Central PS Community Centre, 24 Alexander St
Please RSVP or share on Facebook