We need decent work and stronger laws that will better protect workers in this changing labour market. Thanks to years of organizing across the province by the Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage, the government was forced to increase the minimum wage to $11 an hour in 2014 and to peg the minimum wage to the cost of living. In 2017, indexation to inflation raised the minimum wage to $11.60, effective Oct. 1.
But at $11.60 workers are left more than 16% below the poverty line – that is almost $4,000 below the poverty line per year. That’s why we are demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage and fairness – decent hours, 7 paid sick days, respect at work, and rules that protect all of us.
You may have heard that the Ontario government is planning to make some important improvements to the wages and working conditions of workers — this is a testament to the power of our movement for $15 and Fairness. Yet, nothing in the current plans are set in stone and we need to fight to make sure that the legislation — Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (Bill 148) — moves forward and is strengthened.
We know that the 1% are opposed to sharing their profits with the workers who help generate that wealth. For example, Cara Food Inc. — the company that owns Swiss Chalet, Kelsey’s, Montana’s, Eastside Mario’s and others — has said that raising the minimum wage will somehow bring ruin to their restaurants. That flies in the face of the fact that the CEO of Cara Foods enjoys payouts and stock options worth $100 million. We need to fight back against big businesses who have always opposed workers’ benefits and increases to the minimum wage.
At YUGSA’s 2016 Annual General Meeting, members voted to endorse the campaign for $15 and Fairness. We are demanding:
- $15 minimum wage for all on-campus jobs, including the work-study positions; decent working conditions;
- Equal pay for workers, regardless of their status as students;
- Fair scheduling and adequate hours;
- 7 paid sick days;
- Recognize mid-term and final examinations as a category under “personal leaves”;
- Inclusion of international graduate students in the category of eligible applicants for on-campus jobs; and
- Remove sub-minimum wage rates for youth under 18 and liquor servers.