KDLC News, September 22 2023

September 22, 2023

In this newsletter:

  1. Kingston Labour Day 2023
  2. Get on the bus Sept.25: Defend Public Healthcare demonstration
  3. KDLC Education: “How to organize a union”
  4. Register: Fall 2023 Health & Safety/Workers Compensation school
  5. News Briefs
  6. KDLC meeting, dates, contact info

1. Kingston Labour Day 2023

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the Labour Day Parade and Festival. Between the two events, over 400 people participated, including many families, students, and people living in the Victoria Park neighbourhood. Numerous speeches were delivered, the bouncy slide was enjoyed by dozens of kids, and over 500 hot dogs were served.

Speeches at City Hall and Victoria Park outlined the importance of unions to the betterment of our society in the interests of the majority. Special emphasis was placed on opposing the agenda of the Ontario government of Premier Doug Ford and the Ontario PC Party majority. Healthcare privatization, education cuts, corrupt land dealings, and weak labour laws were targeted by different speakers. Joan Jardin of the Kingston Health Coalition reminded us of the Citizens’ Referendum on Hospital Privatization from last May which had an overwhelming number of Ontarians vote against privatization. Jardin encouraged everyone to register for the bus to the September 25 Healthcare Rally in Toronto (details below).

The Kingston & District Labour Council presented a $4,000 donation to the United Way KFL&A. KDLC Vice-President Steve Garrison offered a friendly challenge to other unions to match the donation. Barb Desroches, President of CUPE Local 1974 representing 1,900 Kingston Health Sciences employees, got up and announced a $5,000 donation. Thank you to UW-KFL&A’s new CEO John Di Paolo and Vice-Chair Kevin Snedden for attending and speaking on the importance of the UW-Labour partnership in building a stronger community where nobody is left behind.

Special thanks to the Carpenters Union for providing free ice cream and the Kingston Musicians’ Union for music at the festival. Special thanks to Tim, Janet, Julia and Doug for barbecuing.

2. Get on the bus Sept.25 Defend Public Healthcare demonstration

“We paid for them. We built them. They do not belong to the Ford government to run them into crisis, gut their core services and privatize them.”

To reserve a space on the bus, email kingstonlabourcouncil@gmail.com. Please provide name, phone number, union affiliation, or community organization affiliation. Early registration ensures KDLC can book a bus in a timely manner.

What: Monster Demo Against Hospital Privatizatoin
Where: Queen’s Park, Toronto
When: Monday, September 25, 2023, 12pm noon
Who: Organized by the Ontario Health Coalition, endorsed by Ontario Federation of Labour

Click here to learn more about the protest and the Ontario Health Coalition demands.

3. KDLC Education: “How to organize a union”

Low wages? No benefits? Unsafe workplace? Bully boss? Want a union? This is for you!

What: Workshop on “How to organize a union”
Where: Central Library, 130 Johnson Street, Kingston
When: Saturday, October 14, 1pm session and 3pm session
Who: Workshops will be led by Ritch Whyman of the Hamilton & District Labour Council and former union organizer with SEIU Local 2 “Justice for Janitors”

Register for one of two 90 minute sessions, either 1pm or 3pm.

This event has been organized by the KDLC Education Committee.

4. Register: Fall 2023 Health and Safety/Workers Compensation School

What: Eastern Ontario labour school on health and safety and workers compensation
When: November 1-5, 2023
Where: Isaiah Tubbs Resort, 1642 County Road 12, Picton, Ontario
Register here

Course lists and more information available here.

5. News Briefs

  • Auto sector: Strikes to the south, deal in the north?
    The American United Auto Workers union is striking the three big Detroit automakers GM, Ford and Stellantis (formerly FCA/Chrysler). It is an unprecedented strike because the UAW has traditionally targeted one of the three companies in order to set a pattern agreement for the other two. Striking all companies at the same time is new. A major UAW demand is the end of two-tier contracts and the restoration of equal pay for equal work. UAW’s strikes have only targeted some assemblies. Only about ten percent of the 146 union assembly workers are on strike. However, a deadline for expanding the strikes looms. The auto companies have so far refused to bargain despite their record profits and CEO salaries. In Canada, Unifor targeted Ford and secured a tentative agreement on September 19, although details are not public. Members vote on the offer September 23.
  • Strike grows at Hastings Prince Edward Public Health unit
    Seventy CUPE Local 3314 members are now on strike at the HPE Public Health Unit (HPEPH). They join fifty nursing staff (ONA) who have been on the picket lines since August 18. It is reported the HPEPH offices in Picton and Bancroft are now closed, with the Belleville office partially closed. The cost of living crisis is central as wages and benefit demands are the sticking points. ONA has stated that management did not budge on their wage offer for the entire bargaining and conciliation process prior to the strike.
  • Kingston unemployment rate at 3.8 percent
    Kingston’s unemployment rate is quite low by Canadian standards. At 3.8 percent, it is below the Canadian average of 5.5 percent, and the Ontario average of 4.6 percent. By comparison, Toronto unemployment is 6.4 percent, and Ottawa 4.6 percent. However, Canada has now undergone a four-month trend of growing unemployment which is above unemployment rates in the decade before the pandemic. Earlier this month, it was reported that Canada had undergone an economic contraction in the second quarter of 2023. This is out of step with the twenty comparable OECD countries, save Italy. Canada’s exceptional economic woes could be the result of the Bank of Canada’s interest rate hikes which are said to be fighting inflation. Despite declines in usually volatile gas prices, inflation rates have not lessened on food, transportation and rents, while debt and mortgage holders are facing climbing interest rates. Labour economist Jim Stanford says that inflation is being driven by excess profits and price-gouging, not wage demands. Stanford notes that higher unemployment will break up the tight labour market which favours workers in bargaining higher wages during this cost-of-living crisis. Canadian Labour Congress president Bea Bruske has called the Bank of Canada’s monetary policy a squeeze on workers, and has called for “strong action” from the government on corporate price-setting.

6. KDLC meeting, dates, contact info

  • Next KDLC General Meeting: October 16, 7pm
  • KDLC News: 
    To list events and reports in KDLC News, please send to kingstonlabourcouncil@gmail.com
  • All official correspondence:
    Please email: kingstonlabourcouncil@gmail.com