Nov. 30, 2022
TORONTO – The United Steelworkers union (USW) declares another win for workers as the Ontario Superior Court of Justice strikes down Bill 124 as “substantial interference” in workers’ rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining.
“Unionized workers took Doug Ford’s bad bill to court and we won!,” said Myles Sullivan, USW District 6 Director (Ontario and Atlantic Canada). “With this ruling, workers’ rights have been recognized and strengthened.”
The USW is among more than 40 unions, representing 270,000 workers across Ontario, that filed a constitutional challenge to Bill 124 in 2019.
The coalition’s argument that Bill 124 violates the collective bargaining rights enshrined in the freedom of association guarantee of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been validated by this court ruling.
Bill 124 has limited compensation increases, including salaries, pensions and benefits, for millions of unionized broader public sector workers in Ontario to 1% for three-year periods, a rate far below record-breaking inflationary increases to the cost of living.
Workers affected by Bill 124, and forming part of the coalition, include those employed by the provincial government, crown agencies, school boards, universities and colleges, hospitals, non-profit long-term care homes, children’s aid societies, social service agencies, and the electricity and energy sectors.
Thousands of USW members, including staff at universities and workers in long-term care homes, have had their wages unfairly suppressed by Bill 124 since 2019. A majority of the workers affected by Bill 124 are women.
“Over many years, our nation’s courts have repeatedly struck down legislative efforts by Liberal and Conservative governments to suppress the fundamental rights of Canadians to freedom of association and meaningful collective bargaining,” Sullivan said.
By coordinating resistance efforts, unions have previously successfully challenged legislation that violates workers’ rights, including the previous Liberal Government’s Bill 115. The courts found that Bill 115 violated workers’ Charter rights, and it was ultimately repealed.
Earlier this month, union solidarity forced the Ontario government to back down and repeal Bill 28, that pre-emptively ordered CUPE education workers back to work.
The USW represents 225,000 members in nearly every economic sector across Canada and is the largest private-sector union in North America with 850,000 members in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.
Each year, thousands of workers choose to join the USW because of its strong track record in creating healthier, safer and more respectful workplaces and negotiating better working conditions and fairer compensation – including better wages, benefits and pensions.
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