Solidarity with the elevator workers strike

As of the end of May, there are no talks planned in the strike that’s seen 1,400 Ontario members of the International Union of Elevator Constructors striking for more than a month with no end in sight.

According to Ben McIntyre, business manager for the IUEC Local 50 in Toronto, the union’s deal with the National Elevator and Escalator Association expired at the beginning of May. With no new deal, the elevator workers went on strike. Like many workers, they’re fighting just to keep what they already have.

But a problem is brewing that may make things even more challenging for the Ontario’s elevator workers. If the maintenance workers’ strike continues, the agency regulating elevator safety in Ontario says it may need to shut down elevators for safety reasons. The Technical Standards and Safety Authority says it requires regular safety checks and is concerned that, with elevator companies won’t be able to keep up with required inspections.

But while you’re journeying up those flights of stairs, it’s worth remembering that these are the workers who keep those elevators running every day, and without them, your commute might be much more exhausting.

Having said that, many people depend on elevators as a part of daily life; I use an elevator roughly ten times a day. Until they develop an easily available wheelchair that can handle stairs, elevator workers will be an invisible army connecting me to the outside world.

And I’d personally prefer that army to be well paid, well qualified, and in strong enough numbers to get the job done.

I’ve had calls from reporters expecting me to be angry about this situation, and I can understand why some people are upset and worried, but without this strike would any of us stop and think about the importance of the work they do?

The Toronto Transit Commission is trying to make it easier for people with disabilities, and other people who depend on elevators while supporting the striking workers. They are adding buses and looking at their options for riders as the elevator workers strike continues. They are also putting Wheel-Trans buses in strategic locations to assist people that may get stranded because of broken down elevator. Wheel-Trans is the accessible public transit alternative for people with disabilities to use in Toronto when they can’t access the regular transit system.

Elevator workers are vital to the quality of life for many who live in Ontario, including people with disabilities. Let’s not let others make this a case of workers’ rights versus disability rights; let’s make it a time we supported each other in solidarity, so that we can all have the quality of life we deserve.

Reposted from http://www.socialist.ca/node/1774

Fighting austerity in North America: Walmart workers to Bill 115

 Tuesday, January 15, 7:00pm
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 252 Bloor Street West, room 8220
 
 
Speakers: 
Elizabeth Clinton, OUR Walmart campaigner from Texas (via Skype)
OUR Walmart is a grassroots organization of Walmart workers and former workers fighting for rights for Walmart workers.

Ritch Whyman, International Socialists

Low wage non-union Walmart workers organized a fantastic strike against their notorious anti-union employer on Black Friday. Workers, both union and non-union, are fighting back against austerity across North America. 

Showing that workers in some of the lowest paid service-sector jobs can organize and fight back, workers from McDonald’s have held protests, wildcat strikes and campaigned for better wages. In Canada, federal and provincial governments are using legislation to impose contracts and try to stop strikes and solidarity. What are the prospects for resistance in this new environment of austerity?

Join a discussion on working class resistance, where we have been and where we are going. 

Organized by the U of T International Socialists
Info: reports@socialist.ca

Solidarity rally for Caterpillar workers in London, ON – Sat Jan 21

Electro-Motive, a subsidiary of U.S. industrial giant Caterpillar Inc., wants to strong-arm workers at its London plant into a pay cut of over 50 percent, dropping hourly wages from $35 to $16.50. It is also imposing devastating cuts to benefits and pensions on members of CAW Local 27 at a time when the company has enjoyed multi-billion-dollar profits and a 20 percent boost to production over last year.

A day of action has been called by the OFL in solidarity with these workers: http://www.ofl.ca/index.php/html/index_in/stop_caterpillar_london_day_of_action_sat_jan_21_11_am/