• Michael Laxer

Ontario unions launch legal challenges to Ford government and Uber attacks




Unions in Ontario are fighting back against attacks on two fronts this week with legal challenges against the Ford government and the ride-sharing and delivery app Uber.


Over 40 Ontario unions have come together targeting the Ford government's Bill 124 in "a lawsuit to repeal legislation which severely limits wage and benefit increases for public sector workers, a move the Coalition says violates bargaining rights enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."


“We have always believed that the Ford government’s attack on collective bargaining is a serious interference with the constitutionally-protected right to collective bargaining, which has repeatedly been affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada. The COVID-19 pandemic has further demonstrated the outrageousness of Ford’s attack on public sector workers who have been relied upon to combat this crisis.” - Patty Coates, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL)


“With Bill 124, the Ford government targeted professions primarily performed by women. But this pandemic has revealed just how essential PSWs, childcare workers, nurses, educators, and so many other working women are to Ontario’s economy and to the services families rely on. It was wrong to try to balance the budget on the back of essential workers before the pandemic, and it’s especially cruel to continue to deny them better pay after all we’ve asked them to do during the pandemic.” - Sharleen Stewart, President of Service Employees International Union Healthcare


Meanwhile United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Canada has filed an Unfair Labour Practice (ULP) application with the Ontario Labour Relations Board against Uber who they say are trying to undermine a union drive by Toronto-area Uber limousine drivers.


They filed it Monday, February 8 after "Uber introduced a new service in the Toronto-area called Premier – competing with its own Uber Black limousine service and marginalizing, if not eliminating, the work at issue in the organizing campaign."


“This is a clear indication that Uber refuses to play by the rules while believing they are beyond reproach. Uber drivers chose to unionize precisely because decisions are made that affect their lives without their consultation, much less consent." - Pablo Godoy, National Coordinator of Gig and Platform-Employer Initiatives at UFCW Canada.


Uber has worked tirelessly to undermine union drives and workers' rights across North America including successfully spearheading a referendum in California that now excludes many gig economy and platform workers from regular labour protections in the state.


You can learn more about the Uber Drivers United campaign, which was launched in 2019 and has been "signing up hundreds of Uber Black drivers in Toronto and spearheading organizing efforts in British Columbia, as well as other parts of the country" at The Union for Canada's Uber Drivers - UFCW Canada - Canada’s Private Sector Union.