On the subject of rotating teacher strikes in Ontario, Tom Walkom offers a little historical perspective:
When Bob Rae’s New Democratic Party government overrode collective agreements in 1993, many private sector unions — including the Steelworkers and my union, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers — broke with their public sector counterparts to support the NDP regime.
The essence of their argument would be familiar today: private sector workers had already suffered from what was, at the time, the biggest recession since the 1930s; therefore, public sector workers had to sacrifice as well.
It was an argument that resonated with their rank and file. But it ignored the real story, which was that government was changing the rules of the entire collective bargaining game.
We know that, two summers ago, Jim Flaherty met with Canada's movers and shakers, and one of the items on their agenda was lowering the cost of Canadian labour. That wish became reality when Bill C-377 passed the House. Last week, Tim Hudak -- whose bulb has never burned very brightly -- announced that, when he becomes premier of Ontario, he will table Right to Work Legislation. And, yesterday, General Motors announced that it will move production of its Camero from Oshawa to Michigan -- even though Canadian and Ontario taxpayers helped keep the company alive during its darkest hours.
Walkom writes that the teachers strike is a moment of truth for Canadian labour:
So think of this latest foray against teachers as part of a package. In Ottawa, the federal government brings temporary workers into Canada to staff doughnut shops. They do so not because the ability to pour coffee is an unusual skill, but because doughnut-shop owners don’t want to pay the wages expected by Canadian workers.
In Ottawa and at Queen’s Park, governments respond to deficits by cutting away at social spending. The reason here is that programs like employment insurance keep workers from becoming so desperate that they will take any job at any wage.
Like Canada's native peoples, it's time for labour to be Idle No More.