Encouraging students to fight for their futures

$15 and Fairness campaign looks to improve Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Act

“We’ve got to get up!” said poet Belladonna the Blest, encouraging the students at the Fight for $15 and Fairness Campus Assembly to participate in the movement for better work conditions.

The Ontario-wide forum took place at the University of Toronto on the weekend of Sept. 15 and drew students, staff, and faculty from different institutions who shared their organizing experiences.

For JP Hornick, a professor in the school of labour at George Brown College, working for good jobs as a student can pay off at graduation.

“There’s not a student in the world that goes into college expecting to graduate with a part-time precarious job, and so, fighting for good jobs in their campuses means a better chance that they will have good jobs when they graduate.”

Hornick said that one of the main purposes of the forum is to build community and analyze ways in which students and faculty can work together to raise awareness of living wages, equal working conditions, and better jobs for everybody working on campus.

The school of labour professor is also chair of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union college faculty bargaining team, which is presently negotiating a new contract with Ontario colleges.

“It’s a human right to have decent work, and the right to be able to not live in poverty if you are working full time,” said Mina Rajabi Paak, a PhD student at York University, who has been part of $15 and Fairness for about two years. “I urge every single student to join the $15 club on your campus.”

Rajabi Paak said that with all that’s wrong in the world, students can feel powerless. But that feeling can change with tapping into the movement.

“The message for students is get involved, learn more, and know that you have enormous power to create change in your campuses.”

The Student Association, which funds The Dialog, has moved to set a minimum wage of $15 next January. In January of 2019, Ontario will have a $15 minimum wage.

Another important purpose of the forum was to discuss how to improve the Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Act.

“The campaign is really pushing for strengthening the language used in bill 148 in order to lessen the loopholes and latitude employers can use to not create decent-fair work places for their employees,” said Frankie Cachon, a professor at the University of Windsor.

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Encouraging students to fight for their futures