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Specific Causes

Fairness in Bargaining for Faculty and Librarians button

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This button was created for the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA). UTFA represents faculty and librarians at the University of Toronto, including those at St. Michael’s College, Trinity College, and Victoria University. UTFA covers employment matters, such as “salary, pension, benefit negotiations, and workplace grievances” (“Welcome to UTFA”, 2022). However, it is not certified as a trade union. Since 1977, UTFA has been meeting with University of Toronto administration to settle a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) for faculty and librarians at U of T.

This button was created during a 2011 dispute between UTFA and university administrators. UTFA wanted to expand their MoA beyond compensation by adding “all conditions that affect work” to the bargaining table (“It’s time…”, 2012). Administration refused to discuss this change and the two parties went into mediation. It resulted in the formation of a Special Joint Advisory Committee with members from both parties, which helped them reach a tentative agreement in 2014 and a new agreement was released in 2016.

During the dispute, UTFA sought support from students, faculty, and staff. They distributed pamphlets, encouraged letters to the Provost expressing support for the proposal, and the Faculty of Librarians of the University of Toronto created a petition. Buttons like this one were distributed to demonstrate support for their requests to the administration.

USWA Ontario Can Work button

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The ‘Ontario Can Work’ campaign was organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) in June 1980. It was spurred by the hardships of the recession, government cutbacks, and staggering unemployment rates following plant closures. The 'Ontario Can Work’ campaign called for government intervention during this economic downturn. Its message: “Ontario works only when its people work” (Simmons, 2007). Before the campaign was completely off the ground, the government responded to their call. They announced a formal investigation into the crisis of plant shutdowns through a designated committee (Simmons, 2007).

Many unions participated in this campaign, including the United Steelworkers of America (USWA), now known as the United Steelworkers (USW). This button was created for the USWA District 6. At the time of the ‘Ontario Can Work’ campaign, the USWA was made up of two districts in Canada: District 5 represented the Maritimes and Quebec and District 6 represented the rest of Canada, including Ontario (McMaster University Archives and Research Collections, n.d.). The districts and their coverage have changed over time and today, Canada is made up of District 3, 5, and 6.

The logo within the number six on this button was the USWA’s very first logo (United Steelworkers, 2016). There is also an Allied Printing Trades Council union label with the shop number 9. The city on the label is illegible.

End Contracting Out button

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This button calls for an end to contracting out. The image in the middle shows two hands emptying a dustpan full of coins and bills. Contracting out, also referred to as outsourcing, is the act of hiring outside of a company for services (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). Employers may contract out to avoid providing benefits like health insurance. The button does not contain any union or workplace information but the image of the dustpan possibly refers to contracting out caretaking services.

The button was manufactured by Mutual Press, a former printing company in Ottawa. It is union made with an International Printing Pressman and Assistants Union label.

General Strike Defend Our Social Programs button

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This button calls for a general strike to protest cutbacks on social programs. Written in the fold is the following message: “Campaign for a general strike (Ottawa) (613)-224-9308 ; Comité de sans-emploi (Montéal-Centre) (514)-596-7094.” There is no indication of who the button was made for or the cause, but it is possibly a reaction to Brian Mulroney’s government. In 1990, Mulroney cut funding to social programs when he froze the Established Programs Financing (EPF). Shortly after the freeze, there were layoffs in health care (Canadian Museum of History, 2010).