Society of United Professionals President Michelle Johnston sent this update to all members on November 8, 2022.
Every Society member, every union member, and every non-union worker – we all won.
This victory of historic proportions came about because when the Ford government tried to strip us of our constitutional rights, we all stood up and fought back. Yesterday, Premier Doug Ford did exactly as we demanded: he signed an agreement with education workers to fully repeal Bill 28, which is the legislation that used the Notwithstanding Clause to override Ontario workers’ Charter-protected rights.
Society President Michelle Johnston, front-row second from left, celebrates Bill 28 repeal with provincial and national labour leaders. Credit: Canadian Press
Premier Ford didn’t do this out of the goodness of his heart. He did it because so many of us got out to protests to show that we are united against attacks on our constitutional rights. He did it because public- and private-sector union leaders banded together and reminded both government and business leaders that protecting the 80-year-old system that enshrines labour rights is best for Ontario’s economy. And he did it because we did it with broad public support.
Society President Michelle Johnston, front row second from left, with national and provincial labour leaders announcing victory on Bill 28 repeal.
This morning, schools reopened, and the government is returning to the negotiating table with education workers – where they should have been all along. Though Premier Ford continues to threaten to use the Notwithstanding Clause again in the future, the entire labour movement is standing by in case Ford makes any attempt to curtail workers’ rights again or refuses to bargain in good faith with education workers.
Society Council Delegates showed solidarity with education workers.
On Sunday and Monday, delegates from every local gathered in Toronto for our annual Society Council meeting. It’s our union’s highest governing body. We had been planning that meeting for more than four months. But when this issue arose, we reoriented our meeting. Delegates showed their deep concern for the government’s reckless attack on our rights, and they demonstrated their willingness to organize their colleagues to stand up and fight back. That’s the power that we’ll need to protect our rights from an unpredictable premier, and in bargaining at locals like Hydro One and Bruce Power over the coming year.
Thank you to every member who stepped forward to stop this unprecedented attack on our rights. The Society is and will remain ready for whatever the future holds in Doug Ford’s Ontario.