As provincial politicians duke it out on the campaign trip, the real fight is going on in the labour movement.
Twitter is alive with nasty comments between Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan and Warren (Smokey) Thomas, head of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
The ugly sparring match has to with Ryan’s support of the minority Liberal government’s budget last week and Thomas denouncing it as a not-so-veiled attempt to privatize great swaths of government services.
“I think this recent attack came from his (Ryan’s) frustration that he couldn’t cajole or intimidate OPSEU members to rejoin the OFL,” Thomas told the Star Wednesday, noting that OPSEU has temporarily withdrawn from the provincial labour body.
Thomas further said that Ryan’s tactics were from a “bygone era” where labour aways had to be at war with someone.
“In essence, in the back and forth of politics, he and Tory Leader Tim Hudak are the mirror image of each other. Always on the attack with little thought behind what is stated,” he said.
Thomas was not alone in his condemnation of the short-lived budget.
He was joined by Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
He said he feared the budget would increase poverty, kill jobs and hurt communities.
“it will pull billions out of the economy, throw thousands out of work and cut services that our communities rely on,” Hahn said.
Contacted at the Canadian Labour Council Convention, Ryan had little comment: “I am not going to get into a public battle with any union leader.”
Some might say it’s too late for that.
Here’s a sample of the back and forth on Twitter between OPSEU’s regional vice-president Ron Elliot and Ryan.
“How do you spell horses ass, you stated ‘like the budget I love it.’ Smokey stated ‘proposing massive cuts to the public sector!,’” Elliott tweeted.
In another tweet, Ryan accused Thomas of making “bizarre” comments on a Sun TV interview.
Another Twitter writer said that the labour movement could ill afford to being sniping at each other. “Pretty shameful,” OPSEU member Amanda Montague said in a tweet to Ryan.
Said Ryan: “Are you fricken kidding? Smokey is ok with privatizing public sector jobs so long as they follow his five principles?”
“Resign Ryan Resign,” says Elliot in the ongoing Twitter squabble.