https://web.archive.org/web/20240529042737/https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/we-will-be-your-human-shields-why-unions-are-showing-up-in-force-to-support/article_562a3da0-1c62-11ef-91f5-2f4615a0758e.html

On Monday, union leaders from across Ontario descended on the University of Toronto campus, vowing to physically defend the students.

“Our job is to put our bodies in between you and whatever the administration brings to you,” JP Hornick, president, Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union (OPSEU), told a rally by the protesters and their allies. “If the police come, we will be your human shields. We will be your line of defence. And I promise you that we will be here for as long as it takes to make sure that you are safe.”

Laura Walton, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), pledged not only her union membership in defence of the protesters, but her own maternal instinct.

On Saturday, in response to the university’s trespassing notice, the OFL’s Walton issued a call to all unions to support the encampment, and on Monday she was joined by four past and present union leaders, including Sid Ryan, former head of CUPE; Fred Hahn, current president of CUPE; and Carolyn Egan, president, United Steelworkers (USW) Toronto Area Council.

Walton said that, in her mind, support for the protesters is undeniably linked to labour issues. “If the university administrators can get away with trampling on your rights to protest and dismissing your legitimate demands, then employers everywhere will feel emboldened to do the same,” she said.

    • Kichae
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      2 months ago

      If the police show up, and the labour unions actually stand off against them, the photos alone could spark a significant social movement. One of the things that labour has failed to show for, oh, like 2 generations now is that the movement is willing to actually help people more generally, being mostly content to limit itself to helping its membership.

      Engaging publicly in a big way has the potential, at least, to be a huge deal.

    • Windex007@lemmy.world
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      2 months ago

      I think it’s significant in principle at least.

      Part of the reason that the youth are so disillusioned is that nobody in the older generations show any interest in protecting them in any sense. From abstract things like the projected future climate in which they will live, or in the concrete immediate of swarms of police.

      Intergenerational solidarity isn’t something these students have really experienced.

    • psvrh
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      2 months ago

      This is what the rich are really afraid of: that support for Palestine acts as a catalyst for left-wing radicalism in general.

      The wealthy know they’ve pushed it too far, that people are sick and tired of being exploited, from the jobless recoveries of the mid 90s, to the dotcom crash where we bailed out the wealthy, to the '08 crisis where we bailed them out even more only to have them piss it away on their own compensation, to the '10s where we rolled out the red carpet for them and let them party on cheap money for decade, to the pandemic where we shovelled money at them only to have them whine and cry about how we wouldn’t work hard enough and how dare get off of our knees and ask, maybe, not to be ground so hard.

      They know that this is a flashpoint, and they’re scared, but despite that fear, they can’t help themselves and despite ebing able to fix things by just not being so egregiously greedy, they’re going to try to flex more and take more because, well, they’ve been able to since at least 1980. They think that because they escaped OWS, they’re get off scott-free here.

      So yeah, this is significant. If organized labour is getting off it’s knees, and if the message sticks, there’s a real cascade that could happen. We haven’t seen labour do this since the mid-90s, if not the late 60s. It could, with momentum, result in some serious change.

    • Somethingcheezie@lemmy.world
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      2 months ago

      Probably a PR stunt so they sound important. Unions have been useless things for years. Leaches grifting off of their workers.

  • Beaver
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    2 months ago

    Good to see people standing for each other.

    Free Palestine 🇵🇸

  • Veraxus@lemmy.world
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    2 months ago

    Holy cow. Canadian unions are my newest heroes! ❤️

    Hey Teamsters et al, let’s get this done in the US now, yeah?

    • Omniraptor@lemm.ee
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      2 months ago

      I fully support it but afaik it doesn’t happen in the us as much due to being illegal since 1947. However sometimes laws are just plain unjust and deserve to be broken.

      McCarthyism/anticommunism really did a number on this country that we really need a proper reckoning for. the elites will do everything possible to prevent that but it needs to happen.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taft–Hartley_Act

      • mojofrododojo@lemmy.world
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        2 months ago

        McCarthyism

        the worst part about it is, we know, have proven beyond any metric, that he was making shit up the entire time, terrorizing people for bullshit, that he was a vindictive bastard, and provided corrupt testimony that destroyed the lives of thousands… but we never went back and fixed the damage their bullshit caused.

  • IninewCrow
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    2 months ago

    They have to speak up and defend those that are standing up for the rights of others … because that is what unions are for!

    Good for them and I’m so happy to see them up there fighting for the freedom of people.

    Right wingers will chant freedom in the streets without ever being fully aware of what freedom means or just generalizing their message of freedom to only being about their own personal freedom to be idiots.

    Unions are the real freedom fighters in our world … they fight for freedom … they fight for everyone’s freedom, especially for those who don’t have it or have lost their freedom.

    Unions are representing the people in our country more powerfully and morally that our government is. They are the real leaders in our country. Those in power only represent power and money … unions represent the people - all people - everywhere!

    This makes me so happy to see. Good for them!

    • streetfestivalOP
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      2 months ago

      People get FIRED UP at rallies for social justice. I’ve heard JP speak - he’s awesome

  • 007Ace@lemm.ee
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    2 months ago

    Watch the 2014 movie ‘pride’ to see how unions and marginalized groups stick together.

    • streetfestivalOP
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      2 months ago

      You’re suggesting that a UK Miners’ Union being less than fully welcoming of support from a Gay and Lesbian group in 1984 (40 years ago) is notable evidence worth considering to understand how this situation will play out?

      • 007Ace@lemm.ee
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        2 months ago

        More of how different groups working together towards a common goal can achieve more than if they work alone.

  • doylio
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    2 months ago

    While I think the student protest are misguided, this seems like a good development. People have a right to (peacefully) protest, and universities shouldn’t forcibly remove people that aren’t hurting others or damaging property

    • mojofrododojo@lemmy.world
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      2 months ago

      two people read your statement and think: nah, they should beat the kids because fuck them if they don’t give into the pressure.

      good to see this move from unions.

    • SpaceCowboy
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      2 months ago

      It’s not all that different from the Convoy Protests in 2022. People being upset about a problem and having a get together to have a shared emotional meltdown in a location that will obviously accomplish nothing. The Canadian government couldn’t dictate border crossing policies to the US and mask mandates were done at the provincial level. Antivax protests happened throughout the Pandemic and were largely ignored. The Convoy Protests on the other hand interfered with some Canadian’s rights to freedom from “discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.” Imagine being an Asian person living in a neighbourhood taken over by a “China Virus” kind of group. They also interfered with people’s rights to mobility within the country by blocking roads, and did things like jam emergency response numbers which if it were allowed to continue could have taken away people’s fundamental right to be alive.

      So it’s kind of a pickle for a government when there’s a group when a group of people exercising their rights is taking away other people’s rights. Through action the government may be infringing on one group’s rights, but through inaction may be infringing on another group’s rights.

      Ultimately the Emergency Act was invoked and the Convoy group was removed from Ottawa.

      So this protect needs to be given the same consideration. Does the university administration have any influence over foreign policy? I think the answer is clearly no. Two subway stops from U of T there is an Israeli Consulate. So why are they protesting at the University instead of at the Consulate?

      Obviously the focus of this “protest” isn’t to effect any kind of change. It’s a social get together that allows some kids to have a shared emotional tantrum. While I’m sure this may be fun and could be cathartic for those in attendance, much like the Convoy “protests” makes it a little less about exercising freedom of expression and closer to having a social gathering on someone else’s property. Have the set up bouncy castles like the Convoy idiots has at their Protest?

      And like how we considered the treatment of Asians in the community the Convoy occupied, we also need to consider the rights of people in the U of T community. Is there an ethnic or religious group facing discrimination from these protesters? Is people’s freedom of movement being affected by this protest?

      This is Canada we don’t just give the loudest people all of the rights to the detriment of everyone else’s rights. Everyone’s rights must be considered. And given that this “protest” (much like the Convoy “protest”) more resembles a social gathering than an actual protest (it’s happening two subway stops from the Israeli consulate!) the property rights of the University and the rights of Jews facing discrimination from this group might carry more weight.