On Apr. 23, the Picket Lines Mean Do Not Cross campaign organized its launch meeting in Toronto, at Cecil Community Center. The event was a massive success, hosting 100 attendees from many different union locals in the city. The mood in the room was electric, with rank and file workers eagerly contributing in the discussion about the need to support strike action. There were workers present from many unions across the city, including CUPE 4400, Workers United, ATU 113, CUPW, as well as some workers from the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) who are currently on strike at Union GO bus station.

The meeting began with an introduction by Picket Lines Mean Do Not Cross campaign organizer Jahan Niroomand who introduced the event and the speakers, explaining the importance of reviving the traditions of picket line solidarity. The first speaker was Donovan Ritch from Labour Fightback, who explained how the ongoing crisis of capitalism means that workers need to organize a militant response. He outlined the history of the labour struggle in Canada, placing emphasis on the WInnipeg General Strike as a key event that helped workers gain labour rights in Canada. 

Labour Fightback activist Donovan Ritch

Following him, Aminah Sheikh, a union and community organizer, spoke at length on the need for grassroots mobilization and the need for unions to embrace and focus on rank-and-file democracy. She explained that organizing in a top-down way does not give workers the confidence to organize themselves, which should always be the goal.

Community organizer Aminah Sheikh

Finally, Sarah Labelle, OPSEU labour activist and medical laboratory technologist, spoke on the general labour movement and the traditions of the working class in Toronto and elsewhere. She emphasized the need for solidarity across multiple unions, so that the boss does not just worry about one union striking, but about the solidarity from the many other unions that will come to support those pickets.

OPSEU activist Sarah Labelle joined in remotely

Following the speakers was an exciting discussion from the floor, with many workers intervening on their own experiences in previous strikes. There was also much discussion on the next steps of the campaign. Three committees were formed out of the meeting: The Research Committee, The Outreach Committee, and the Flying Squad.

The research committee plans to investigate labour council and provincial federation policies, and union local contract language, to summarize best practices in supporting picket lines. Out of this research the committee will draft a resolution to generalize the best approach in the movement. The outreach committee is meant to grow the campaign by connecting with rank-and-file workers and organizing presentations on the campaign at union locals and across the labour movement. Finally the flying squad will mobilize solidarity teams to support picket lines that are occurring in the local community.

With inflation rising and cuts being instituted by the bosses, there are big fights for the labour movement on the horizon. There is no doubt that this campaign will help the working class defend against future cuts and organize a militant fight back.

This campaign is on-going, so if you are interested in getting involved, do not hesitate to contact us!

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