TORONTO, June 24, 2019 /CNW/ - OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is demanding that the new Labour Minister, Lambton—Kent—Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton, denounce statements he's made in support of wage-busting "right-to-work" laws.
"When he was part of Tim Hudak's disastrous attack on workers, Monte was one of the loudest cheerleaders for labour laws that weaken workers' ability to form a strong union," said Thomas. "He went from one end of the province to the other telling anybody who would listen that Ontario needed labour laws that would lower working- and middle-class wages and make our workplaces more dangerous."
When Thomas challenged McNaughton to public debates on the issue, McNaughton's courage failed him – he dodged, weaved and ultimately declined.
"You can understand why he didn't want anybody asking him tough questions in public," said Thomas. "He knew that the people of Ontario would quickly smell a rat. The only people who would have benefited from the changes he wanted to make were privatizers and other wealthy business owners."
The main change McNaughton wanted to make was to give unionized workers the ability to "opt-out" of investing in their union through dues even as they continued to benefit from the bargaining and health-and-safety work their union does.
"U.S. Southern state bosses call them 'right-to-work' laws, but that name is an outright lie," said Thomas. "In reality, these laws, which were originally steeped in racism, weaken workers' rights by dividing workers against each other. More accurate names are 'right-to-work-for-less' or 'right-to-shirk.'"
OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida said he's willing to give McNaughton the benefit of the doubt, at least in the short term.
"To be fair, McNaughton was championing 'right-to-work' laws six years ago," said Almeida. "Since then, a number of economic studies have shown that these laws do little to create new jobs while driving workers' wages downwards.
"I'm sure that as McNaughton faces facts, he'll happily admit that he was mistaken. Hopefully, he's a more mature and knowledgeable politician than he was six years ago."
Thomas said McNaughton owes it to every person in Ontario to make his views clear.
"He's the Labour Minister now," said Thomas. "He has a responsibility to speak up for those of us who provide labour, not those who'd exploit us."
"So we're asking for the real Monte McNaughton to please speak up."
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
For further information: OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931