I am writing to you in regards to COPE Ontario staff represented by IAM District 78 and Local 1922 who have been on strike since Wednesday October 2. I find it deeply troubling that no progress has been made so far with COPE regional or national representatives to get back to the bargaining table.
When COPE negotiated with Unifor in the most recent round of bargaining, Unifor moved swiftly to ensure that all issues surrounding a defined benefits pension plan and many similar language and financial measures at issue in the current dispute, were enshrined in the collective agreement without question. It is also noteworthy that negotiations between COPE and Unifor came at a time when COPE leadership were comfortably engaged in a public campaign to smear Unifor.
Fighting for defined benefits plans for our members across Ontario and every region in Canada is a real and persistent challenge that is almost always an uphill battle. Within our houses of labour, we have to set clear and consistent examples for employers bent on undermining fair compensation for our members. This labour dispute undermines our broader fight and leaves the labour movement further away from this vital objective. Aside from the defined benefits plan, Unifor’s wage, benefits and retirement benefits by far exceeds what COPE is paying its own workers.
If COPE’s agreement with Unifor for wages and a defined benefits pension plan is good enough for its members at Unifor then it should be good enough for its staff members in Ontario.
I urge COPE regional and national leadership to get back to the bargaining table immediately and end this senseless and completely unnecessary labour action.