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On Thursday, several drivers wilfully drove into people on a picket line in Owen Sound.
I was one of the picketers hit by a car and, throughout the day, there were others hit and close calls.
I travelled to Owen Sound to join the picket line with the workers of OPSEU Local 276 from the Owen Sound Family Health Organization, who have been on strike since May 22. These workers were forced to strike when their employer refused to make important changes in their workplace.
They face low wages and unfair working conditions that prevent them from providing quality service and care to thousands of people and families. These workers have not had a raise since 2014.
No worker wants to go on strike. Striking is hard on families, so I was happy to be in Owen Sound to support the struggle for decent treatment.
What I experienced today horrified and disappointed me.
I saw drivers treating picketers with disrespect, violence and outright hostility. Several people used cars to force their way through the picket line when they refused to honour the picket line by waiting a minute or two before entering the parking lot.
I was not seriously injured when a car hit me while on the picket line, and at other times in the day two other pickets were not injured when the same happened to them. But, not everyone was so lucky. One woman had her foot run over. She had to be attended to by paramedics and taken to hospital.
When workers demand better conditions, they are doing so not only for themselves, but to raise the bar for all workers. They should be applauded, not faced with violence and attacks.
Although there were some who were disrespectful towards the workers I also saw many who were supportive and respectful.
I urge all people in Owen Sound to join these workers on the line. Write or speak to the doctors in this medical clinic and demand that your local health organization bargain fairly and in good faith with their employees. Support their call for decent pay and working conditions.
Demand better for them and for all of us.
Patty Coates Secretary-Treasurer
Ontario Federation of Labour


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