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The membership of Ontario’s largest union has supported the call for massive labour disruption if the Ontario government moves to make public services essential. The issue arose during the 45th annual convention of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, held from May 21-24, 2008 in Niagara Falls.

Over 1,000 delegates made it clear during debate on the convention floor that they will not tolerate workers’ bargaining power to be compromised by local or provincial politicians. CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan received a standing ovation when he said that “CUPE will draw a line in the sand if Dalton McGuinty moves in any way to take the right to strike away from workers by introducing essential services legislation.” Other union leaders attending the convention expressed a similar sentiment.

CUPE Ontario will take the issue to the 3,000 delegates attending next week’s Canadian Labour Congress convention in Toronto from May 26-30, 2008 to encourage labour groups in other provinces to take the same stand. “The fact that some citizens may be inconvenienced because public service workers are on strike to fight for decent wages and benefits is no excuse to strip workers of their fundamental rights to bargain with employers,” added Ryan. He said that there was no public health or safety issue at stake to merit recent sentiments expressed by some politicians to make the Toronto Transit Commission an essential service.

At CUPE Ontario’s convention, Ryan and Secretary-Treasurer Fred Hahn were re-elected to lead the union for another two years. The full CUPE Ontario Executive Board for 2008 is as follows:

President:  Sid Ryan
Secretary-Treasurer Fred Hahn
1st Vice President Michael Hurley
2nd Vice President Candace Rennick
3rd Vice President Ajamu Nangwaya
4th Vice President Denise Hammond

Members at large: Shelly Bird; Henry Bosch; Dan Crow; Henri Giroux, Wyman MacKinnon; Graham Potts

Sectoral Chairs:Dharam Boodhoo, Rebekah Condon, Janice Folk-Dawson, Terri Preston, Sue Schmidt
Diversity Chairs: Yolanda McClean, Joanne Webb
For more information, contact:

Sid Ryan CUPE Ontario President  416-209-0066
Valerie Dugale CUPE Communications  647-225-3685                           cope343