A Missed Opportunity: The Limitations of Trade Unions

This is a very short post.

When I went to the political picket line/strike and rally on November 4, 2022, there were thousands of people present in front of the Ontario legislative buildings. Premier Doug Ford’s ramming through of Bill 28–legislating workers back to work and using the notwithstanding clause of the Charter and Rights to Freedom to prevent any legal challenge–essentially stripped away collective-bargaining rights–including the right to strike. This-galvanized workers, citizens, immigrants, migrants and parents and led to to support for the workers. Even union reps felt their cherished ideal of free collective-bargaining and a fair contract threatened, and thus supported a wildcat strike.

However, as soon as Ford promised to rescind the legislation, unions welcomed this move since their primary concern was to negotiate a collective agreement and not engage in challenges to the existing class power of employers.

After returning to the bargaining table, the two sides have still not been able to come to an agreement; wages as an issue have been settled, but the main issue now is staffing levels and job security. 

The education workers will go on strike again on November 21 unless there is a settlement. In the meantime, there will be a rally in Toronto (among other places) in two locations on November 19 (not in front of the legislature building). My prediction is that there will still be support–but hardly the level of support shown on November 4. The opportunity to force the Conservative Ford government’s hand has been lost. 

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