Workers are renewed and unified in BonfieldSunday, October 06, 2013 by: Kate AdamsLocal 4616 members are visibly shaken by the support they received from their union brothers and sisters Saturday during Rally for Fairness in Bonfield.
Heading into their third month on the picket line CUPE Local 4616 members got a boost Saturday as union activists from across the province joined Ontario Federation of Labour President Sid Ryan, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn and North Bay District Labour Council President Henri Giroux for a Rally for Fairness in Bonfield.
Delivering cheques and gift cards to help make Thanksgiving a good one for municipal workers and their families, labour activists reminded them they are not alone in the fight and that their brothers and sisters in the labour movement will be with them all the way.
“I want to start today by thanking the 16 brave women and men who work for the Municipality of Bonfield who are standing up, standing up against a bully, standing up for their community, standing up for themselves, but my friends they are standing up for all working people,” Fred Hahn, CUPE Ontario President told the crowd.
“We owe them a great debt of thanks.”
“Now surely to god the mayor and council have to be hearing the message, when people are willing to get on a bus and travel from Hamilton for four and half hours, when people are willing to travel from Ottawa for four and a half hours, when people in the community Are willing to give money out of their own pocket to support these workers -- they should know their job go back to the bargaining table today and settle this strike!”
“What are members want to do is go back to do the jobs they love with their friends and their neighbors that's what they want to do but by God we will be here to stand with them, we will escalate action as we need to, we will do each and every thing we must do to make sure that the five workers this mayor has tried to fire are reinstated,” Hahn states enthusiastically.
“There will be no resolve here without it we will be here for as long as it takes.”
Echoing Hahn Ontario Federation of Labour President Sid Ryan says the strikers don’t just work in the community they live and volunteer in the community and the longer the strike goes on the more the good will of the town will suffer.
Ryan says in bullying municipal workers to force concessions, Mayor McLaren has picked a fight he can't win.
"When I say this is a microcosm what I actually mean is that the battles that we are fighting here we are fighting right across Ontario; concessions at the bargaining table, attempting to rip apart our collective agreements, attempting to destroy the labour movement and your fight is the fight of every worker in this province. And the way we're goanna to fight this my friends is doing exactly what you've done because you are teaching us a lesson in many ways across Ontario you are showing us how we ought to fight these battles.”
“You are a part of this community, you have galvanized this community. This community has come out to barbecues, this community has stood in solidarity with the workers with the strikers of CUPE 4616 is there any reason why they should not because we are of this community."
"We drive your buses, we look after the elderly in your nursing homes, we look after you in our hospitals, our teachers teach our children in the schools, we pick up your garbage off the streets and when we go home in the evenings we actually run the hockey teams we’re hockey coaches and we’re soccer coaches and we work for United Way and we collect money on behalf of this community We are this community my friends and that's who we are.”
“That's the key to winning these fights all across the province"
Local 4616 member Diane Francoeur confirmed there will be no movement till the five workers that were terminated last month are reinstated and that they return to a harassment free environment.
“All we are asking is to have a fair contract I respect full workplace free of harassment and bullying,” states Francoeur.
“Even though the mayor and council have taken over our jobs even though the mayor back planning with his tractor, our roads, we will prevail.”
“Today we stand here before you all of you made us stronger and closer than we were three months ago because we will pick ourselves up we will dust ourselves off and we will stand firm we may be going through hell right now but we will survive and we will win!”