greetings was followed by Andrea Babbington, vice president, Toronto and York Region Labour Council.
Andrea's message talked about struggles in the labour movement. Specifically, card check certification, sub-contracting out jobs, temp workers. If we want to raise the standard for all workers union and non union, we must stand united and fight for the rights of all workers.
First guest speaker today was Chris Buckley- President, Ontario Federation of Labour. He acknowledged the strong contributions COPE members make to the labour movement and his decision upon being elected President of the OFL to reinstate COPE members that had their employment terminated by the previous OFL board president.
He also resolved many grievances ( 19 ) that were outstanding and unsettled for years. " That is no way to treat your employees " states Buckley.
Together we will build a strong house of labour in Ontario. We will lobby government at every opportunity to demand better worker rights. The OFL is currently running a simultaneous campaign - The $15 and fairness and the Make it Fair campaign to rewrite outdated labour laws in Ontario.
With much excitement brother Buckley informed the convention of the return of OPSEU (130,000 members) to the Ontario Federation of Labour and after several meetings with SIEU ( 38,000 members) and ONA
(60,000 members) there is great optimism these two unions will soon be back in the fold.
In closing brother Buckley states, " Lead by example, that's what the OFL is about. You attack one worker, you attack all workers. We as leaders need to make it fair for all workers, not just union workers.
National President, Simon Berlin would be next to address the convention. He talked about how over 12 years we have grown as a union. Brother Berlin states, " I cannot be more proud; proud of you, and how we should all be proud of our extraordinary union " .
He touched on the success of the National Organizing Program. Organizing is a tough business- everywhere. Ou constant fight with austerity driven governments. Outsourcing is killing Canadian jobs.
Jobs moving to other countries, not because we can't do it here in Canada, but because it is simply cheaper labour elsewhere which does nothing more than fill up the corporate pockets at the workers expense.
" We must focus on organizing, it is our future and we must fight and resist the attacks from the right " states brother Berlin.
Sadly, after many years of hard work and dedication to the labour movement and the great strides made with COPE, brother Berlin will not be seeking another term as President of copesepb. He will move on to another stage of his life. Wishing Simon all the best.
Ed Broadbent, leader of the National New Democ:rat Party from 1975-1989 and founder of the Broadbent Institute was next to address the delegates. He talked about electoral reform and how unfair our electoral system is. He calls it disproportional representation. His institute is lobbying the federal government for electoral reform. He is confident we will see changes by the end of 2016.
Gwenne Farrell gave her last report as National Secretary of copesepb as she to will not be seeking another term. She talked about how we have grown and become a recognized power in the labour movement in a relatively short period of time and she see's nothing but great things ahead for us as a National Union.
We have great leadership and we are financially sound. Gwenne has touched the lives of many people over the years and will be greatly missed by all.
Guest speaker, Armine Yalnizyan, senior economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives gave a resounding presentation on " Basic Income ". She weighed in on the cost of such a program and and how to build change. Giving people money is only temporary and is income the best way of preventing poverty.
We as society need to look at alternatives such as cheaper and easier access to services and how different groups will benefit from such initiatives.
Last guest speaker of the day, Phillippe Hurteau, Political Scientist, Institute of Research. His message was
" The economy is not a monopoly for the right wing " ! In other words, the conservative think tanks from the Manning Institute and the Fraser Institute find ways and develop policies that are geared towards nothing more than corporate profit all at the expense of workers. The fact that the distribution of wealth is so disproportionate, it is causing precarious work, unemployment and poverty at rates we have not seen since post world war II.
The afternoon finished off with a report from the resolutions committee.
The convention reconvenes Saturday morning at 9:30 am.
Follow the convention on twitter. #copesepb16