If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

I don’t know how else to interpret today’s media event wherein UNIFOR National President Jerry Dias and OPSEU President Smokey Thomas appeared in Milton praising Doug Ford’s plan to increase the minimum wage. It seems like they’ve thrown in the towel.

Compare and contrast their gosh golly “frustrating conversations” (Dias) and “we have a government that is listening” (Thomas) suck-up rhetoric to the “powerful force against Ford’s anti-people, pro-corporate and pro-privatization agenda” they were talking about in December 2018.

So what happened? Is DoFo now BroFo?

Well one thing we know from that announcement is that the Ford government will be moving to raise the minimum wage to $15 on Jan 1., 2022. The sub-minimum wage for servers who earn tips will also rise to $15 from $12.55.

We also know that three years ago (back when Smokey and Jerry were blustering about stopping the corporate agenda) Ford cancelled the former government’s plan to hike the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

And we know that this move cost minimum wage workers about $5300 since then.

Maybe Thomas and Dias realize their organizations are so far away from being a social movement that cutting deals with the government is the best they can do. And if the price of public credit-claiming for the Ford government’s semi-about face on the minimum wage is a newser with the devil, well, so be it. These are interesting times in which we live and all that.

I feel it’s much worse than that for these two.

See in uniondom, when a worker is treated unjustly, and their union files a grievance against this, there will be much talk of the grievor being ‘made whole’. This is arbitrator speak for undoing the damage caused by the mistreatment. In this case it would be $5300 or portion thereof plus interest for each minimum wage worker who could show an ROE for 2018 to Jan 1 2022.

There was no such talk at the newser today. At least none that made it into the public record.

So it seems that apart from their political compass being stuck on a magnet (one that happens to be pointing at the PC’s re-election campaign), Dias and Thomas (and whoever else they consulted in OPSEU and UNIFOR before heading to Milton) have also lost sight of the gravity of the injury the Ford government has caused.

I do sincerely hope their members — to say nothing of all those working at minimum wage — have not and that they see clearly and vote accordingly next June.


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  1. It sure was a surprise alignment and endorsement.. it is useful that unions mark progress and give some credit but your question on where are we heading with the broader agenda of the government and upcoming election after the battles of a few years ago, loom large. This piece of history is merrily ignored by these two important union leaders when the underlying agenda of the government seems to be to fracture individuals wellbeing.

    I say this, giving a small example: cutbacks in funding for CPAP machines, resulting in doctors having to beg providers to support low income people, who don’t have the resources. https://www.health.gov.on.ca/…/Sleep_Clinics_Price….

    As well just for fun check out this brief clip talking the political strategy for the conservatives on this, in the upcoming election (do leave after the clip as they swear a lot here, sexualized metaphor’s abound as well. https://youtu.be/bSIMSc75FT4?t=2927 It sure would be good to get more of an accounting from my union leader (OPSEU) on their approach to the Conservative Party of Ontario.

  2. Just to share, some OPSEU response – from the president, btw passed to me by members from my local:


    – The site below is of Smokey Thomas on TVO’s The Agenda where he explains his position more clearly. The other guests are Sheila Block from the CCPA and a Toronto Star journalist. It was an interesting discussion.