In 1981, Ronald Reagan took on and smashed PATCO, the Air Traffic
The American labour movement expressed outrage but did nothing. This
sealed the fate of American workers for over three decades. Toronto's
mayor, Rob Ford, has declared war on city-workers. He intends to smash
unions. This is our PATCO moment.
The upcoming battle between Toronto city-workers and Rob Ford is a
historic test for the Canadian labour movement. It will set the
precedent nationally. If we lose here, we'll lose everywhere, and
we'll pay the price for years to come.
If we win here, we can begin to turn the tide, we can build a mass
movement against austerity and union-busting.
Ford and his powerful allies are preparing for class war. We must
ensure that they are not the only class fighting. CUPE Locals 416 and
79 cannot win this fight on their own. Ford is too determined, his
backers too powerful, the stakes too high. Words will not be enough.
We can't just tell Canadian workers that our fight is their fight. We
must demonstrate that Ford is not only up against 416 and 79, but CUPE
as a whole. It is only this kind of leadership from CUPE that can
bring the rest of the labour movement into this struggle.
Occupy Toronto pointed us in the right direction. We must occupy this city.
CUPE National should publicly move its war office to Toronto now to
coordinate the working class as a whole against Ford's war on workers.
Rallies, marches, educationals, and campaigns, while necessary, are
Ford will not be swayed. We need direct action. Particular sections of
CUPE could embark on rolling days of action that minimize damage to
the public while putting pressure on Ford. We could engineer a
slowdown in one sector one day, and remove services for half a day in
another sector another day. We could hold a sick-in at one sector one
day, and a teach-in with clients in another sector another day. This
could coalesce into city-wide days of action. Only workers—union and
non-union, public and private sector—acting as a class, can stop Ford.
CUPE workers, demand from your leaders a unified strategy for this struggle.
Workers everywhere, pledge your support to city-workers and mobilize
your co-workers to participate in direct actions. The fate of
city-workers is the fate of us all.
Ford will continue the general trend of locking-out workers and
forcing them back to work as befits the interest of capital. We know
what they're going to do. What are we going to do?
Solidarity. Resistance. Change.