Ontario labour movement ‘sold their souls to the Liberals’ says union leader

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

'Thanks for nothing.'

You couldn't blame Ontario's unions for at least thinking that today.

As has been widely reported, the labour movement was a big part of the Liberal party victory in last week's general election. The unions spent millions of dollars to make sure that Tim Hudak's Progressive Conservatives wouldn't win the election.

Some union leaders even promoted strategic voting at the expense of the NDP -- labour's traditional bedfellow.

But, if members were expecting some goodies in return, they are going to be disappointed.

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Wynne is doing a victory tour, of sorts, this week speaking to various media outlets about the election victory and her mandate moving forward.

On Wedesday, she told CBC News that her party re-release the same budget introduced before the election was called: A budget which has little room for public sector wage increases.

"I respect the collective bargaining process and I'm adamant that we will have fair collective bargaining, but there is no new money and everyone knows what the fiscal situation is," Wynne told CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

"We've made tough choices, we will continue to do that."

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The Ontario Federation of Labour's Sid Ryan says he's not surprised at Wynne's comments and has no regrets at how the election turned out.

"I've heard that same message from Bob Rae, Mike Harris, Ernie Eves, Dalton McGuinty and am I now surprised to hear it from Kathleen Wynne... no, of course not," Ryan told Yahoo Canada News.

"Unions will go to the bargaining table - as we have always done- and continue to negotiate wage increases.

"The OFL's mission was to stop Tim Hudak from becoming Premier and we did just that."

But another labour leader — the leader of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Ontario's third largest union — is essentially saying 'I told you so.'

"The labour movement was so afraid of Tim Hudak being elected they sold their souls to the Liberals," OPSEU's Warren (Smokey) Thomas said at a news conference Thursday, according to the Toronto Star.

"I think we’re going to really live to regret [Wynne] got a majority government,"

Even during the campaign Thomas was railing against Wynne — he says he voted NDP.

Wynne's promise of "no new money" seems to have raised his ire.

"There’s the leader of the labour movement just agreed to four-year wage freezes," he said.

"So how in the hell are you going to go to any bargaining table and say, ‘Listen, my workers have had three years of wage freezes, they’re $10 an hour behind the agency down the road and I can’t even get them a wage increase.'"

(Photo Courtesy of The Canadian Press)

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