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Unions hold solidarity rally for ‘Cadillac Fairview 61’ workers

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Unions from across Ontario rallied Thursday outside the Toronto Dominion Centre to pressure Cadillac Fairview and its owner, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Fund, to negotiate a fair settlement with CEP Local 2003.

Known as the 'Cadillac Fairview 61', CEP Local 2003 members were locked out by corporate giant Cadillac Fairview in June. “Since then, Cadillac Fairview has 'terminated' the workers and attempted to use a 'third-party service provider' to handle maintenance and skilled trade duties at TD Centre,” said the Cadillac Fairview 61 in a written release.

“Through their union, the Cadillac Fairview 61 (CF 61) are currently pursuing a complaint of bad-faith bargaining against the employer. The Ontario Labour Relations Board is preparing to hear the complaint, rejecting several attempts by the employer to persuade the board not to do so.”

NDP MPP Peter Tabuns said: “The fight here is a fight not just for the workers at Cadillac Fairview, but a fight to defend workers rights across this country. If this company can get away with it here, they can get away with it anywhere. That’s why they have to be stopped.”

Tabuns addressed the crowd of over 100 supporters, many waving their union flags, and told them how solidarity amongst the unions is needed to break the lockout and put people back to work.

“It is a little bit ironical that we are here as well because as teachers we are owners of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and by extension direct investors in Cadillac Fairview,” said Second VP Chris Karuhanga of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association. “We decry the unfair labour practices by the management of Cadillac Fairview and are prepared to ratchet up the pressure on Cadillac Fairview to do the right thing.”

Karuhanga added, “There is no justification for the arrogant actions of Cadillac Fairview management and by extension the Teachers’ Pension Plan…and it is morally unconscionable, morally disturbing, morally shameful, but most importantly morally unacceptable.”

Marie Clarke Walker, Executive VP of the Canadian Labour Congress, said what Cadillac Fairview is doing to the 61 workers is wrong and shameful. “They’re locked out and then they hire scabs,” she said. “And then on top of that, they fire them.” After failing to reach a fair agreement, the CF 61 were locked out on June 14; a month later they were fired.

When you hear that story, said Clarke Walker, you think you’re talking about something happening in a different country. “But it’s right here in Toronto,” she said. “It’s not in Nigeria, it’s not in Ghana, and it’s not in Argentina, where workers have been subjected to all of these same things.”

But in those countries workers have been able to make change by standing in solidarity with each other and refusing to buy from these companies. “It is unfair for them to be taking home millions of dollars in salaries, benefits and bonuses, while 61 workers and their families continue to suffer,” she said. “That’s shameful.”

Supporters want Cadillac Fairview to get back to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair contract; as far as they’re concerned, lockouts and termination are not a solution.

“No trade unionist should be kicked to the side of the street because they went to negotiate a collective agreement in good faith,” said Sid Ryan, CUPE Ontario President. But Cadillac Fairview decided they could get the work done a lot cheaper by bringing in replacement workers and contractors.

Odd behavior from a company whose Corporate Social Responsibility Policy on their website says, “Our governance commitment ensures that we consistently strive to achieve the highest ethical standards in our dealings with our employees, tenants, customers, contractors and suppliers and that we treat them with fairness and respect.”

Ryan continued: “This same corporation has made a billion dollars in profit in the last year. And now they turn around and say ‘How can we maximize this profit even further by taking advantage of workers?’ This is no different than what we saw down in the United States.”

In the U.S., an unregulated financial oligarchy fueled by corporate greed created the worst recession since the 1930s, with job losses to continue in the weeks and months to come.

Ryan said, “Here we’re seeing the ugly face of corporate greed in Canada represented by Cadillac Fairview, who has managed to somehow turn the tables and blame workers, as if somehow those who earn $20 and hour are to blame for the crisis that’s facing this country and every other country around the world.”

He urged his sisters and brothers to start holding CEOs accountable for the way they spend and invest their monies by demanding governments pass legislation that gives unions some degree of control about how pension monies are invested. “And we don’t allow these corporate villains to rip us off and kick us to the side of the street, depriving us of an ability to earn a living,” he said.

The CUPE Ontario President pleaded with labour to unite and say to the corporate sector: “We’re not taking it any more. We’re not taking the blame for the crisis in this province.”

At the same time, Ryan expressed the need for good paying jobs in Ontario through the establishment of a new green economy that would require local procurement policies that keep manufacturing right here in Canada rather than overseas.

Ryan finished his speech by calling for at least 1,500 trade unionists to join the CF 61 on the streets and shut down the Toronto Dominion Centre when the OFL convention comes to Toronto in a couple of weeks, so Cadillac Fairview can feel the power of the labour movement in this province.

Click here to see more photos from the rally.

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