The Workers’ Action Movement (WAM) strives to foster militant, democratic leadership to inspire union members to make a better world for the working class and humanity.
“A common phrase we are now hearing is that after the pandemic, we must ‘build back better.’ Many of the problems that we face today are the result of the conditions working people faced for decades.”
— Julius Arscott, WAM Conference 2021
There is a big appetite for change in our labour movement today. What’s lacking is leadership.
- Workers want to fight against concession bargaining, against two-tier wages and benefits, and against attacks on our pensions. Union leaders tell us to settle for less, insisting that we cannot win by standing up.
- There is a visible shift in consciousness in the workers’ movement as a result of the public health crisis and the economic depression.
- We need a movement that takes a leading role in fighting the pandemic and Eco-catastrophe head on.
- Workers are on the front lines fighting COVID-19. Vaccination delays, lack of PPE, lack of paid sick leave, while the most precarious and vulnerable workers keeping the economy moving, all show the priority of the bosses: private profit.
- We honour the workers of colour who continue to fight systemic racism in the workplace and in our unions, often without the support of union leadership. Anti-discrimination law suits must be backed up with mass action.
- WAM stands in solidarity with Indigenous people and supports Land Back initiatives.
- The Ontario Federation of Labour must listen and hear the calls of the multiracial North American working class: “Black Lives Matter”, “De-fund, disarm and abolish the police”, and “Fuck White Supremacy”.
- 68% of workers in Canada do not belong to a union.
- Precarious workers want unions to organize them.
- The Ontario Federation of Labour convention, November 2-4, 2021 will meet to adopt policy and to elect its officers. One of its tasks is to put an end to union raiding.
- Raids involve one union campaigning to recruit members of another union. Such efforts, which are rarely initiated by workers, serve only to divide the ranks of labour.
- The funding problems of the OFL, with regard to staff and similar issues, result from reduced revenues from affiliates. Some unions have quit the OFL because they prefer ‘raiding’ each others’ members to ‘organizing the unorganized’.
- In addition, the weak policies and conduct of the OFL leadership fail to inspire unions, let alone the multi-million ranks of the working class, to join the OFL and/or to increase their financial commitment to it.
- This problem won’t be solved by a dues increase.
- The solution to the staffing issue is to change the direction of the OFL and the CLC, to put the Movement back into the Labour Movement.
- That can be done only by direct job action to defend the right to strike (dockworkers, postal workers, hospital workers), to actively fight concessions bargaining, 2 and 3-tier wages and benefits, attacks on our pensions, to stop flirting with the Liberal Party, to demand a Workers’ Agenda inside the NDP, and to fight for a Workers’ Government.
- Some minor cost-savings can be achieved by reducing the salaries of the OFL officers and top staff to the average pay level of the workers represented by the OFL, plus job-necessary expenses.
- Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Israeli apartheid state. Hands Off Venezuela. Stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. Canada Out of NATO. Support the struggle of India’s farmers.
- It was disgusting that the CLC President publicly criticized the CLC Vice-President for going to Syria, at his own expense, to attend a labour solidarity conference. It was disgusting that the CLC President supported the strike-breaker and former Liberal cabinet member Bill Morneau in his failed bid to become head of the imperialist think tank, the OECD.
- Now that the Palestinian people are being pulverized by the Zionist state, why doesn’t the OFL leadership demand boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until the Wall comes down, the siege of Gaza ends, all refugees can return home and Palestinian rights are upheld?
- Change comes through working class struggle, as it always has. The mis-leaders of labour are unwilling to mobilize the ranks of labour in mass job action to defend our rights, let alone to fight for substantial gains.
- Incumbent OFL executive members are known for flowery words, glossy images, and hardly any action — except for occasional misguided support for the Liberal Party.
- The vague rhetoric of the OFL executive incumbents does not represent any meaningful change to the dismal track record of business unionism.
- They have failed to champion the fight for no-concessions bargaining, for greater union democracy, or for mass job action to fight austerity. None have pushed hard for anti-racism, for Eco-socialism, to de-fund the police, or for any substantial challenge to business-as-usual within their own unions.
- They gloss over struggles against systemic racism, for Eco-socialism, and efforts to oppose Canadian imperialism.
- They don’t commit to the labour-based NDP and, at the same time, vigorously fight for a Workers’ Agenda within it.
- They lack a program for radical change.
- WAM set a precedent by standing up for democracy at the Ontario Federation of Labour Convention in November 2019 — in a way not seen at an OFL convention in many years.
- WAM played a leading role in defeating an amendment to hold OFL Conventions only every 3 years. This change would have undermined accountability, transparency and union democracy.
- WAM candidate for OFL President, Barry Conway, received 36% of the vote — double the support he got at the 2017 OFL Convention. WAM candidate for OFL Executive VP, Kurt Young, received 34%. The substantial vote for both WAM candidates set a high water-mark for class struggle politics.
- WAM campaigned for an end to concessions bargaining, two-tier wages, undemocratic union practices, and urged a general strike to “Dump Thug Ford.”
- Establishment forces were visibly shaken by the sizable support won by WAM. Dozens of delegates joined WAM.
- WAM candidates for CLC Executive received up to 17 per cent of the votes cast by thousands of delegates at the CLC June online convention.
- Now is the time to organize for radical change at the November 2021 OFL Convention.
- We encourage every organized worker to become a delegate.
- Together, we can intervene in debates on issues as they come to the floor, and we can vote for new leadership.
- In the context of the pandemic, a common phrase we hear is ‘Build back better.’ But many of the problems that we face today are the result of the conditions working people have suffered for decades. We need to go forward, not back.
- It’s time to fight for a $20 an hour minimum wage, for public ownership of the pharmaceutical industry, the giant telecoms, the huge retail chains, Big Oil and Gas, the banks, and private Long Term Care centers.
- OFL elected officers should be paid no more than the average salary of the workers they represent. Union members should be able to vote directly on bargaining demands, on contract ratification and on proposals for mass job action. Unions should make a priority of unity in action with social justice movements, international solidarity causes and environmental protection campaigns. Give life to the vision that together we can — we must build a better world.
With militant, democratic, courageous leadership, nothing can stop the power of the working class.
Dare to Struggle. Dare to Win. Labour Forward!
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