Transcript: Sid Ryan: A Lifetime in Labour | Jun 06, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and spotted blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "A lifetime in Labour. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says AFTER MORE THAN A
DECADE AND A HALF AT THE HELM OF
THE CANADIAN UNION OF PUBLIC
EMPLOYEES AND SIX YEARS AS
PRESIDENT OF THE ONTARIO
FEDERATION OF LABOUR, FEW PEOPLE
HAVE HAD THE VANTAGE POINT ON
LABOUR ISSUES IN THIS PROVINCE
THAT SID RYAN HAS HAD.
BRUISING BATTLES WITH
GOVERNMENT, MAJOR MOBILIZATIONS
FOR WORKERS' RIGHTS, AND DEALING
WITH DIFFICULT DIVISIONS WITHIN
THE UNION MOVEMENT.
HE'S NOW PUT PEN TO PAPER AND
RECOUNTS THOSE EXPERIENCES IN
HIS NEW MEMOIR, "A GRANDER
VISION: MY LIFE IN THE LABOUR
MOVEMENT," AND SID RYAN JOINS US
NOW.

Sid is in his sixties, clean-shaven and balding. He's wearing glasses, a black suit and a patterned blue shirt.
A picture of his book appears briefly on screen. The cover is black and red, with a picture of Sid gesturing as he gives a speech.

Steve continues Sid, IT'S NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE.
YOU GREW UP IN DUBLIN, I'LL, IN
THE 1950s AND IT'S TEN KIDS
AND YOU'RE CRAMMED INTO A TINY
HOUSE ON REGULAR OCCASIONS, YOUR
FAMILY COULDN'T AFFORD TO PAY
THE HEATING BILL, THAT KIND OF
THING.
DID YOU KNOW, SID, AT THE TIME
THAT YOU WERE POOR?

The caption changes to "Sid Ryan. Author, 'A grander vision.'"
Then, it changes again to "Irish roots."

Sid says NO, NOT AT ALL.
I BELIEVE WE HAD A BRILLIANT
CHILDHOOD.
I HAD A REALLY, REALLY FANTASTIC
CHILDHOOD.
FABULOUS.
LOTS OF FRIENDS.
OF COURSE, MY BROTHERS AND
SISTERS.
WE, YOU KNOW, WE HAD TO INVENT
OUR OWN GAMES AS WE DID LOTS OF
IT T BUT, NO, NO, WE NEVER KNEW
WE WERE ACTUALLY LIVING IN
POVERTY BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE
AROUND US WERE LIVING IN THE
SAME CONDITION.

Steve says WHEN YOU LOOK BACK,
YOU WERE.

Sid says I LOOK BACK AND I REMEMBER MY
MOTHER HAVING TO... ONE DAY WE'D
LOSE THE GAS.
COAL GAS IS WHAT FUELLED THE
STOVE AND SO ON.
WHEN WE WEREN'T ABLE TO AFFORD
THAT, WE'D HAVE TO PUT THE POTS
AND PANS ON TO THE COAL EMBERS
TO BOIL THE WATER.
AND THEN AS KIDS, WE THOUGHT
THIS WAS FANTASTIC.
IT WAS SO DIFFERENT.
THEN WE GOT TO CLEAN THE POTS
AND PANS WITH STEEL WOOL
AFTERWARDS.
IT WAS AN ADVENTURE.

Steve says YOU JOKE ABOUT THIS
IN THE BOOK.
IT'S ACTUALLY NOT FUNNY.
BUT YOU'RE BORN AT HOME AND
DURING THE PROCESS, THE
UMBILICAL CORD IS WRAPPED AROUND
YOUR NECK AND YOU NEARLY DIE IN
CHILD BIRTH.

Sid says THAT'S RIGHT.

Steve says NOW, NAME NAMES, SID
RYAN, WHO TODAY IN THE UNION
MOVEMENT WISHES THAT UMBILICAL
CORD WAS A LITTLE TIGHT JEER I
COULD NAME A LOT!

Steve says I BET YOU COULD.
WE MAY COME TO THE NAMES LATER.
I BAN TO READ AN EXCERPT IN YOUR
BOOK.
HERE WITH GO.
SHELDON, BRING UP THIS.
PLEASE.

A quote appears on screen, under the title "I'd rather not." The quote reads "Massey, the foreman, reached into his inside pocket, took out his pipe, and fetched around inside his side pockets for matches. When he realized he didn't have any, he scanned the trailer that served as our lunchroom and stopped when he came to me.
'Hey!' he said. 'Run down to the shops and buy me a box of matches.'
I was furious. This was not a work-related chore; he wanted to use me as his personal errand boy. I said, 'Look, I'm here to learn a trade, not to be your personal slave.'
'You have two choices, he said: go buy me matches or go back to head office.'
I knew going back to head office meant I would be fired. I said, 'F@# you. Go buy your own matchs.'
Sure enough, I was fired that afternoon."
Quoted from Sid Ryan, "A grander vision." 2019.

Steve says I FOUND THIS STORY
SO INTERESTING BECAUSE I WANT TO
KNOW WHERE AN 18-YEAR-OLD KID
GETS OFF HAVING STONES THAT BIG
TO SAY THIS TO HIS BOSS.

The caption changes to "Sid Ryan, @PSidRyan."

Sid says I WOULD PROBABLY SAY FROM MY
FATHER WHO AS A 12-YEAR-OLD, HE
LED A STRIKE IN A LITTLE
TWO-BEDROOM HOUSE WAS THE STRIKE
HEADQUARTERS.
SO I WAS LISTENING TO, YOU KNOW,
THESE FOLKS BACK AND FORTH
ARGUING FOR WORKERS' RIGHTS AND
SO ON AND SO I KNEW GOING IN AS
AN APPRENTICE 'TIS THAT I HAD
ASCERTAIN RIGHTS AND, OF COURSE,
I KNEW ONE OF THEM WASN'T TO BE
AN ERRAND BOY FOR ANYBODY SO I
TOLD HIM WHERE TO GET OFF.

Steve says FOUR YEARS LATER,
YOU COME TO CANADA, YOU STAND
YOUR GROUND AGAIN WHEN THERE IS
A MANAGER WHO IS URGING YOU TO
DO SOME WORK AT THE PICKERING
NUCLEAR PLANT.
TELL US THE STORY.

The caption changes to "The rabble-rouser."

Sid says WE PASSED THE OCCUPATIONAL
HEALTH
THE OPTIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETYACT
WORKERS THE RIGHT TO REFUSE
WORK.
I WAS ASKED TO GO INTO THE
VACUUM DUCT WHICH CONNECTS THE
REACTOR BUILDINGS IN THE CANDU
SYSTEM INTO A MASSIVE VACUUM
CHAMBER SO YOU HAVE TO GO IN
THERE OCCASIONALLY.
IT WAS LIKE TINFOIL THAT
SEPARATES THE TWO CHAMBERS.
OCCASIONALLY THEY GET LITTLE
HOLES IN THOSE TINFOILS
CHAMBERS.
SO I HAD TO GO IN AND... BUT
GOING IN, I RECOGNIZED THAT IF
THE REACTORS, SOMETHING HAPPENED
TO THE REACTORS, THESE MASSIVE
VALVE WOULD OPEN AND YOU WOULD
BE SUCKED IN THROUGH THESE
VALVES INTO HAD THE VACUUM
BUILDING AT ABOUT 1500 MILES AN
HOUR.

Steve says YOU'RE DEAD BASICALLY.

Sid says I SAID, WAIT A MINUTE...
YEAH, YOU'RE DEAD.
DO THE OPERATORS UNDERSTAND
THERE IS SOMEBODY IN THE VACUUM
BUILDING AND NOT TO IMPACT ON
THE POWER LEVELS.
HOW WILL THEY KNOW IF THERE'S
GOING TO BE AN ACCIDENT.
YOU KNOW, THE DIFFERENTIAL IN
PRESSURE, WILL IT RISE?
HOW WILL I KNOW?
THEY BASICALLY TOLD ME I WON'T
AND PEOPLE HAD BEEN DOING THIS
FOR 20 YEARS AND I SAID, WELL,
I'M NOT DOING IT AND I BASICALLY
REFUSED.
SO IT LED TO A MASSIVE STANDOFF.
THE MINISTRY OF LABOUR CAME IN H
THE UNION THEMSELVES WHEN THEY
PHONED UP SAID OH, BOY, WE'VE
NEVER TESTED THIS PIECE OF
LEGISLATION BEFORE.
PLANT MANAGER CALLED ME INTO HIS
OFFICE WITH ALL THE ENGINEERS,
TRIED TO CONVINCE ME TO GO INTO
HAD THE VACUUM BUILDING AND GET
RID OF THE WORK REFUSAL.
OF COURSE, I REFUSED AND SAID
NO, STOOD MY GROUND.
AND EVENTUALLY THE RULING CAME
DOWN THAT I WAS RIGHT.
I DIDN'T HAVE TO GO IN BECAUSE,
ONE, I DIDN'T HAVE THE TRAINING.
TWO, THAT THE HYDRO HADN'T PUT
ALL THE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS IN
PLACE.
SO IT COST THEM ABOUT COUNTRY
3 MILLION DOLLARS TO MAKE... ABOUT
13 MILLION DOLLARS TO MAKE IT
ACCEPTABLE.

Steve says WAS IT A FIGHT WORTH
HAVING?

Sid says YES, IT IS.
BECAUSE LOTS OF PEOPLE AROUND
THE PLANT BEGAN TO USE THE SAME
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
ACT.
THEY WEREN'T AWARE OF IT.
WHEN HELP EXPOSED TO ASBESTOS,
FOR EXAMPLE, HIGH LEVELS OF
RADIATION, THEY SAID, NO, WE'RE
NOT DOING THAT.
AND THEN, OF COURSE, IT SPREAD
ACROSS THE PROVINCE, TOO.
PEOPLE BEGAN TO SEE THIS PIECE
OF LEGISLATION ACTUALLY WORKS.

Steve says WHAT GOT YOU... THAT
WAS CLEARLY AN EXAMPLE OF YOU
TAKING A POSITION OF LEADERSHIP
AS IT RELATED TO A LABOUR
RELATIONS ISSUE.
WHAT EVENTUALLY GOT YOU INTO
OFFICIAL LABOURDOM?

Sid says WELL, OFFICIALLY RIGHT AT THE
BEGINNING WAS WHEN I HAD CAME
TO CANADA.

Steve says NO, I MEAN...

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live."

Sid says AS AN ACTIVIST, IN THE PLANT
ITSELF.
THE MANAGEMENT RECOGNIZED THAT
CHIEF STEWARTS WERE ESSENTIALLY
ACTUALLY ABLE TO HELP THEM
RESOLVE SOME PROBLEMS BECAUSE
BEFORE IT GOT TO HUMAN
RESOURCES, SOMETIMES WE WERE
ABLE TO RESOLVE THE EVERYBODY BY
LOOKING AT THE COLLECTIVE
AGREEMENT.
SO IN ESSENCE, I BECAME A
FULL-TIME STAFF OR CUPE REP
INSIDE THE PLANT ITSELF.
BUT REALLY AND TRULY WHEN IT
REALLY HAPPENED WAS AT MY FIRST
CONVENTION IN VANCOUVER AND I
GOT TO SEE THESE SPEAKERS WHO
COULD CHANGE A CONVENTION, 2,000
PEOPLE ON THE INTERIOR OF A
CONVENTION, A SPEAKER GETS UP
AND COMPLETELY CHANGES THE
DYNAMIC ON THE FLOOR AT THE
CONVENTION, SOMEBODY ELSE GETS
UP ON THE MIC AND THEY CAN MOVE
IT BACK AGAIN AND I WAS
FASCINATED BY THE ABILITY OF
PUBLIC SPEAKERS TO BE ABLE TO
MOVE 2,000 PEOPLE.
AND I SAID I GOT TO THE LEARN
HOW TO DO THAT.

Steve says WHICH YOU DID AND IN
YOUR DAY, OF COURSE, YOU HAVE
LED DOZENS AND DOZENS OF
PROTESTORS INVOLVING SOMETIMES
TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN
THE STREETS.
WHAT I WANT TO KNOW IS, DO
YOU... CAN YOU POINT TO A SINGLE
INCIDENT WHERE YOU THINK
MOBILIZING WORKERS IN THE STREET
ACTUALLY CHANGED GOVERNMENT
POLICY TOWARDS A WAY YOU WOULD
HAVE PREFERRED?

The caption changes to "To the picket lines."

Sid says HE WILL WITH, ONE, MIKE
HARRIS BROUGHT IN BILL 136.
HE WAS AMALGAMATING CITIES AND
IN THE COURSE OF AMALGAMATING
CITIES HE WAS ESSENTIALLY SAYING
YOU DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO FREE
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AND YOU
DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO GO ON
STRIKE DURING THIS PHASE BECAUSE
WE KNEW IF THAT WAS THE CASE,
OUR COLLECTIVE AGREEMENTS WOULD
BE BASICALLY STRIPPED BY
EMPLOYERS BECAUSE WE WOULDN'T
HAVE THE AGO TO STRIKE AND WE
WOULDN'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO
BARGAIN.
SO I MOBILIZED CUPE, TOOK STRIKE
VOTES ALL ACROSS THE PROVINCE
AND THE STRATEGY BEHIND IT WAS
WE KNEW THAT MPP NOVA SCOTIA
THEIR OWN COMMUNITIES WOULD BE
READING THE LOCAL NEWSPAPERS SO
WE WENT INTO KINGSTON AND TOOK A
STRIKE VOTE OF ALL THE CUPE
MEMBERS, 95 percent.
UP IN NORTH BAY, IT WAS
INTERESTING, I WAS SITTING ON
THE MARINE ON THE WAY BACK.
NO, IT WAS THUNDER BAY.
AND THE LOCAL MPP WAS SITTING IN
FRONT OF ME WITH THE LOCAL
PAPER.
AND I SAID FANTASTIC, HE'S GOING
TO GO BACK IN, TELL MIKE HARRIS,
AND THEY'RE ALL GOING TO TELL,
ALL THESE MPPs WILL SAY RYAN
IS OUT THERE MOBILIZING FOLKS.
HARRIS EVENTUALLY CALLED US IN
AND SAID, LOOK, I'M PREPARED TO
WITHDRAW THE PIECE OF
LEGISLATION IF YOU GUYS WILL
AGREE NOT TO FRIVOLOUSLY GO ON
STRIKE DURING THESE
AMALGAMATIONS.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL THE NEXT DAY
BANNER HEADLINE SAID HARRIS
BLINKS.
PROBABLY THE FIRST TIME HE
BACKED DOWN FROM ANY
DEMONSTRATION.

Steve says YOU GIVE ME THAT ONE
AS A VICTORY, I CAN PROBABLY
GIVE YOU 25 FOR EVERY OCCASION
YOU WERE IN THE STREETS MAKE A
RUCKUS AND NOTHING HAPPENED.
WOULD YOU GRANT THAT?

Sid says I WILL SAY THIS MUCH.
WHEN WE HAD OUR DEMONSTRATION,
DAYS OF ACTION, FOR EXAMPLE, YOU
KNOW, WE DIDN'T DEFEAT HARRIS
WITH OUR DAYS OF ACTION BECAUSE
HE GOT HIMSELF REELECTED BUT WE
DID IT IN THE COURSE OF
EDUCATING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS
OF OUR MEMBERS ACROSS THE
PROVINCE.
WE DID, IN FACT, BACK HARRIS OFF
THE WORST ELEMENTS OF HIS
AGENDA.
HE KNEW HE WAS DROPPING IN THE
POLLS AS A RESULT OF OUR
PROTESTS.
SO I THINK WE LESSENED THE
DAMAGE THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED
HAD WE NOT BEEN OUT THERE
PROTESTING IN THE STREETS.
DID WE HAVE SOME PROTESTS WHERE
GOVERNMENTS DIDN'T LISTEN?
OF COURSE.
I MEAN, WE LIVE IN A DEPARTMENT
AND I WITH WE KNOW THAT
DEMONSTRATIONS ARE NOT GOING TO
OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT.
THAT'S NEVER THE INTENT.
THE INTEND IS TO TRY TO
INFLUENCE THEM ENOUGH THAT
THEY'LL SEE THEY'RE DROPPING IN
THE POLLS OR THAT THERE'S SO
MUCH UNREST THAT THEY REALLY
HAVE TO RETHINK THE POLICY THAT
THEY'RE IMPLEMENTING.

Steve says I WONDER WHETHER ALL
THESE YEARS LATER AND WE'RE NOW
30 YEARS REMOVED NOW FROM THE
ELECT OF BOB RAE'S GOVERNMENT.
I WONDER IF YOU HAVE ANY SECOND
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE HELL YOU PUT
HIM THROUGH YOU AND CALLED HIM
IN THE BOOK A TRAITOR TO THE
CAUSE.

The caption changes to "The days of Rae."

Sid says I THINK HE WAS BECAUSE OF
WHAT HE DID.
DO I HAVE REGRETS?
I HAD REGRETS RIGHT AT THE TIME.
I MEAN, I DID NOT DISLIKE LIKE
BOB
RAE.
I WANTED TO BOB RAE TO FIND A
SOLUTION WITH US.
WE WERE PROPOSING REAL SOLUTIONS
BUT ROB RAE, HE NEEDED A
POLITICAL SOLUTION BECAUSE HE
HAD MIKE HARRIS WITH HIS COMMON
SENSE REVOLUTION HE WAS ABOUT TO
UNLEASH AND LINDA McLEOD WHO
WAS GOING TO EXTRACT BENEFITS
FROM THE PUBLIC SECTOR
COLLECTIVE AGREEMENTS.
SO HE DIDN'T WANT THE PRACTICAL
SOLUTION THAT HE OFFERED.
IN FACT, WE WOULD HAVE GIVEN HIM
MORE THAN WHAT HE HAD WAS ASKING
FOR...

Steve says IN HE WERE ITS OF SAVINGS.

Sid says IN TERMS OF SAVINGS.
BUT HE WAS LOOKING FOR THE
POLITICAL SOLUTION AND THAT IS
WHAT I NEVER FORGIVE HIM FOR
BECAUSE HE PUT US IF THIS
POSITION WHERE HE BASICALLY
SUMMONED US TO A PUBLIC MEETING
WITH EMPLOYERS WHO WERE ONLY TOO
HAPPY TO OPEN THE PUBLIC
AGREEMENT AND I THOUSAND
DOLLARS, GEEZ, WHAT THE
CONSERVATIVES CALL THE BAY
STREET CORPORATE SECTOR TO A
PUBLIC MEETING WITH UNIONS AND
SAY TO THE CORPORATE SECTOR,
WE'RE GOING TO RAISE TAXES
BECAUSE WE NEED TO GET EXTRA
MONEY OUT OF YOU FOLKS AND WE
HAVE THE UNIONS IN HERE THAT ARE
BASICALLY HERE TO PUT PRESSURE
ON YOU.
THAT WOULDN'T HAPPEN AND THAT'S
WHAT I NEVER FORGAVE HIM FOR.

Steve says 15 YEARS AGO, YOU
WERE ON A SHOW WE USED TO DO
HERE CALLED ACTUAL... STUDIO 2.
WANT TO SEE A CLIP?
GO AHEAD.

Steve says SHELDON, IF YOU
WOULD, PLEASE.

A clip plays on screen with the caption "April 1, 2004. Sid Ryan."
In the clip, a young Steve sits in a TV studio facing Sid in his late forties.

Steve says WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Sid says WELL, DALTON McGUINTY HAS
GOT VERY LITTLE POLITICAL
CAPITAL LEFT RIGHT NOW AND I
DON'T KNOW IF HE'S IN THE
POSITION TO BE ABLE TO EXPEND
ANY MORE BY TAKING ON THE BATTLE
WITH LABOUR.
BUT IT THIS WAY, WHEN BOB RAE
OPENED UP OUR COLLECTIVE
AGREEMENTS AND YOU KNOW KNOW I'M
A STRONG NDPer, WE WENT TO WAR
WITH BOB RAE AND, YOU KNOW,
BASICALLY...

Steve says YOU HELPED DEFEAT HIM.

The clip ends.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Steve says SO YOU HELPED TO
DEFEAT BOB RAE.
YOU MAY HAVE HELPED DEFEAT MIKE
HARRIS' GOVERNMENT EVENTUALLY.
YOU DIDN'T LIKE THE McGUINTY
GOVERNMENT EITHER.
YOU GUYS WENT TO WAR WITH THEM.
YOU KNOW, IS THERE ANY
GOVERNMENT THAT'S EVER
SATISFACTORY ENOUGH FOR THE
LABOUR MOVEMENT IN THIS PROVINCE
IN YOUR VIEW?

Sid says I THINK INHERENTLY WE ARE
ALWAYS AT WAR WITH GOVERNMENTS
BECAUSE GOVERNMENTS ARE
TYPICALLY PASSING LAWS THAT UP
PACK UPON WORKERS AND IF THE LAW
IS UNFAIR TO WORKERS, THEN WE
ARE GOING TO FIGHT THEM, EVEN IF
IT IS A GOVERNMENT LIKE BOB RAE.

Steve says THAT'S THE THING.
DO YOU SOMETIMES CUT OFF YOUR
NOSE TO SPITE YOUR SAYS THAT I
DO I DON'T THINK SO.
IN THE CASE OF BOB RAE, WE HAD A
CHOICE.
WE COULD HAVE ACCEPTED THE RAE
GOVERNMENT AND ACCEPTED HIS
CUTS, BUT WE WOULD HAVE LOST THE
LABOUR MOVEMENT.
THE LABOUR MOVEMENT HAS BEEN
AROUND FOR 150 YEARS AND WE
FIGURED THAT GOVERNMENTS COME
AND GO.
AT THE END OF THE DAY, YOU GOT
TO STAND BY YOUR PRINCIPLES.

Steve says BUT YOU ALSO... YOU
DEFEATED RAE AND ENDED UP
GETTING HARRIS.

Sid says S IT THE PRINCIPLE INVOLVED.
YOU CAN'T JUST SAY I'M GOING TO
PUT MY PRINCIPLES ASIDE BECAUSE
IT'S A FRIENDLY GOVERNMENT.
WHEN THAT GOVERNMENT BASICALLY
COMES IN AND OPENS UP A
COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT WHICH ARE
ABSOLUTELY SACROSANCT, THERE IS
NO WAY A BANK WOULD OPEN UP A
MORTGAGE OR ANY SIGNED CONTRACT.
WHY WOULD WE ALLOW OUR FRIENDS
TO OPEN UP OUR COUNTRIES WHICH
ARE DULY SIGNED, YOU KNOW,
THROUGH BLOOD, SWEAT, AND TEARS
AND WE GAVE UP CONCESSIONS IN
ANY EVENT TO GET THAT AGREEMENT
AND THEN FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO
COME IN AND SAY, OKAY, WE'RE
LOOKING FOR BENEFIT.
NOW, WE WANT TO OPEN UP THE
COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT.

Steve says YOU STOOD UP FOR A
PRINCIPLE.
I GET THAT.
BUT WHAT YOU GOT IN RESPONSE FOR
THAT MAY HAVE BEEN WORSE THAN
WHAT THE MEDICINE WAS BOB RAE
WAS TRYING TO GET YOU TO
SWALLOW.

Sid says THAT'S A POSSIBILITY.
WE DON'T KNOW THAT.
AT THE WON'T KNOW AT THE TIME OF
THE DAY...

Steve says WELL, WE DO KNOW.
TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PUBLIC
SERVANTS LOST THEIR JOBS.

Sid says WAS IT BECAUSE OF THE SOCIAL
COMFORT OR BECAUSE HE WALKED
AWAY FROM PUBLIC AUTO INSURANCE
WHICH I BELIEVE WAS A BIGGER
PROBLEM OR BECAUSE HE BROUGHT IN
SUNDAY SHOPPING WHICH WAS A BIG
PROBLEM FOR A SEGMENT OF THE
COMMUNITY AS WELL.
THERE WAS A LOT OF POLICIES
PEOPLE DIDN'T LIKE.
SO I DIDN'T SAY FOR DEFINITE IT
WAS ONLY THE SOCIAL CONTRACT
THAT BROUGHT DOWN BOB RAE.
THAT WAS PROBABLY ON TOP OF ALL
THE ISSUES.
BUT I WOULDN'T ARGUE THAT THE
SOCIAL CONTRACT BROUGHT HIM
DOWN.

Steve says ONE OF THE THINGS I
REALLY FOUND FASCINATING ABOUT
THE BOOK, YOU DO PEEL BACK THE
CURTAIN AND DO GO INTO SOME
DETAIL ABOUT WITH THE BATTLES
THAT TAKE PLACE INSIDE THE
LABOUR MOVEMENT.
YOU KNOW, I THOUGHT IT WAS
SUPPOSED TO BE ONE FOR ALL AND
ALL FOR ONE IN THE LABOUR
MOVEMENT BUT THERE IS SO MUCH
IN-FIGHTING AND BACK STABBING
AND YOU DON'T SPARE MANY DETAILS
ON ALL OF THAT.
WHY DOES THAT HAPPEN IF YOU'RE
ALL SUPPOSED TO WORK TOGETHER
AND THE EMPLOYER IS ACTUALLY THE
ENEMY?

The caption changes to "Charting a future for unions."

Sid says IT'S PARTICULARLY UNIONS OPERATE
IN THEIR OWN SILOS.
UNION LEADERS, A LOT OF THEM,
TEND TO BE THE KING OR THE QUEEN
OF THEIR OWN CASTLE AND THEY
DON'T REALLY WANT TO ENGAGE WITH
OTHER UNIONS.
THE CENTRAL ORGANIZATIONS SUCH
AS DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCILS,
FEDERATIONS OF LABOUR, AND THE
CANADIAN LABOUR CONGRESS, ARE
THE CENTRAL BODIES BASICALLY
WHERE UNIONS ARE MEANT TO COME
TOGETHER AND BECOME UNIFIED.
THERE'S NOTHING BUT PUBLIC TO
THOSE ORGANIZATIONS WHERE UNIONS
DISLIKE THE POLICIES OF A LEADER
IN MY PARTICULAR CASE OR OF THE
ORGANIZATION AND THEY WITHDRAW
THEIR FUNDING.
WHICH BASICALLY WEAKENS THE
CENTRAL ORGANIZATION.

Steve says THAT HAPPENED TO YOU.

Sid says THAT HAPPENED TO ME.
EXACTLY.
AND A HALF IT HAPPENED TO OTHERS
AS WELL.
LIKE, YOU'VE GOT UNIFOR RIGHT
NOW HAD A DISAGREEMENT OVER
RATING OTHER UNIONS AND THEY'RE
GOING TO BE SANCTIONED SO THEY
LEAVE AND PULL OUT MILLIONS OF
DOLLARS FROM THE CLC, THEREBY
WEAKENING THE REST OF THE LABOUR
MOVEMENT.
NOW, WHEN YOU TRY TO PUT
TOGETHER A CAMPAIGN, UNIFOR IS
OUTSIDE THE CLC, AND IT'S
OUTSIDE OF LABOUR COUNCILS AND
CONSEQUENTLY WORKERS FEEL ODD
ABOUT TRYING TO WORK WITH THAT
UNION BECAUSE THEY'VE BEEN
KICKED OUT OF THE CENTRAL LABOUR
BODY.
SO ALL THESE INTERNAL FIGHTS,
SOME OF THEM STEMMING BACK THEY
0, 40, 50 YEARS, THE CAW... THE
OLD CAW FIGHTING WITH STEEL
WORKERS OVER A PHILOSOPHICAL
DIRECTION.
YOU KNOW, WOOD WANTS TO BUILD
WHAT THEY CALL SOCIAL UNIONISM.
OTHERS JUST WANT TO WORK WITH
POLITICAL PARTIES OR JUST WHAT
THEY CALL BUSINESS TRADE
UNIONISTS.
JUST DEAL WITH COLLECTIVE
BARGAINING, GRIEVANCES.

Steve says YOU PREFER THE
FORMER.

Sid says I PREFERRED GETTING OUT INTO
THE STREETS, BUILD THE BASE OF
THE UNION MOVEMENT AND WE SHOULD
BE AN INTEGRAL PART OF OUR
COMMUNITIES, NOT A SEPARATE
STAND ASIDE.

Steve says THAT GETS NEW
TROUBLE, FROM TIME TO TIME.
WHEN YOU WERE AT CUPE AND A
UNION WAS PASSED TO PUT
SANCTIONS ON ISRAEL, YOU KNOW,
THE WHOLE BDS MOVEMENT.
NOW, HELP US UNDERSTAND WHY
THERE IS VALUE IN AN ONTARIO
PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS UNION
TAKING THAT KIND OF SHOT AT THE
ONLY DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE
EAST.

Sid says IT'S ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE
BASICALLY.

Steve says HOW MUCH SOCIAL
JUSTICE IS THERE IN ANY OF THE
NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES IN THE
MIDDLE EAST?

Sid says BUT IT ISN'T ABOUT THE SOCIAL
JUSTICE IN NEIGHBORING
COUNTRIES.
WE'RE DEALING WITH PALESTINIANS
WHO HAVE BEEN BASICALLY DEPRIVED
OF THEIR BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS AND
DONE SO BY ONE OF THE MOST
POWERFUL COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD.
AND I COME TO THIS, OF COURSE,
COMING FROM IRELAND WHERE WE
KNOW A LOT ABOUT OCCUPATION AND
SUPPRESSION FROM HUNDREDS OF
YEARS OF IT AND EVEN RECENTLY,
YOU KNOW, AND CONTINUING IN
NORTHERN IRELAND WHICH IS STILL
PART OF THE U.K. AND THERE'S A
BIG MOVEMENT TO SORT OF UNITE
THE TWO.
SO I COME TO THE ISRAELI ISSUE
AND THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION
FROM A SOCIAL JUSTICE
PERSPECTIVE.
AND I DON'T SEE WHY AS A UNION
LEADER WHEN I HAVE A PLATFORM
THAT I SHOULD NOT BE SPEAKING
OUT ABOUT THE INJUSTICES.
BY THE WAY, YOU KNOW, READ
THROUGH THE BOOK.
I ALSO TALK ABOUT THE INJUSTICES
INSIDE OF IRAN, HOW THE IRANIAN
GOVERNMENT ARE ACTUALLY BEATING
UP ON TRADE UNIONISTS AND THE
OPPRESSION THAT'S TAKING PLACE
IN THAT PARTICULAR COUNTRY AND
MANY OTHER COUNTRIES I MENTION
IN THE BOOK AS WELL WHERE CUPE
IS ACTIVE.
IT WASN'T JUST SINGLING OUT
ISRAEL.

Steve says NO, FAIR ENOUGH.
BUT YOU TOOK PARTICULAR FLACK AT
THE TIME FOR THE ISRAELI BDS
THING.

Sid says ABSOLUTELY.
WE WERE THE LARGEST ORGANIZATION
IN THE TIME THAT ACTUALLY
SUPPORTED THE BDS MOVEMENT.
THAT WAS 2006.
BDS WAS JUST BASICALLY GETTING
OFF THE GROUND.
SO IS YOU CAN WELL IMAGINE THAT
ORGANIZATIONS LIKE B'NAI BIRTH
AND AT THE TIME, THE CANADIAN
JEWISH CONGRESS, THEY WERE LIVE
INDIVIDUAL AND CAME AFTER ME
BIG-TIME.
I GOT 35,000 E-MAILS, MOST OF
THEM FROM INSIDE OF CANADA BUT A
LOT OF THEM FROM OUTSIDE OF
CANADA.
SOME OF THEM CALLING FOR ME TO
BE MURDERED AND SO ON.
IT WAS A PRETTY VICIOUS PERIOD
INTERIOR MY LIFE.
BUT ONE THAT I WOULD NOT BUDGE
AN INCH FROM BECAUSE I SOLIDLY
BELIEVE THAT A BDS CAMPAIGN
WHICH IS A NONVIOLENT CAMPAIGN,
IS THE WAY TO GO TO PUT PRESSURE
ON ISRAEL TO RECOGNIZE THE
RIGHTS OF BLINDS.

Steve says LET'S... BOY, TIME
FLIES HERE.
LET'S FINISH UP ON THIS H THE
LABOUR MOVEMENT, OF COURSE,
HELPED CREATE THE PRESENT NDP.
WE'RE GOING BACK... WELL, IT'S
1961.
ALMOST 60 YEARS NOW.
FOR A LONG TILE, THE NDP COULD
ALWAYS COUNT ON NOT JUST THE
UNION LEADERSHIP TO BACK IT BUT
WORKERS' VOTES AS WELL.
CERTAINLY NOT THE CASE ANYMORE.

Sid says NO.

Steve says WHY NOT?

The caption changes to "Standing behind the NDP."

Sid says THIS IS THE IMPORTANCE OF
UNION LEADERS.
UNION LEADERS ACTUALLY CAN
DICTATE THE POLICY AND THE
DIRECTION OF THEIR YOUNG AND
THERE WAS A TIME WHEN... OF
THEIR UNION AND THERE WAS A TIME
WHEN PRACTICALLY EVERYONE UNION
IN THE COUNTRY WAS SOLIDLY
BEHIND THE NDP.
AND THEN IN THE LATE '90s,
BUZZ HARGROVE GOT UPSET WITH THE
NDP.
THEY KICKED HIM OUT OF THE PARTY
FOR DRAPING A UNION JACK AROUND
THE SHOULDERS OF PAUL MARTIN.

Steve says I THINK IT WELL.

Sid says AND HE DID IT BASICALLY
BECAUSE HE BEGAN TO CURRY FAVOUR
WITH THE LIBERALS.
SO WAS IT A SINGLE ISSUE TYPE OF
A MOVEMENT WHICH UPSET A LOT OF
PEOPLE IN THE MOVEMENT.
HE GETS KICKED OUT OF THE NDP
AND INDEED... EXCUSE ME, HE GOES
AND HE CONDUCTS A SURVEY WITHIN
HIS MEMBERSHIP TO SEE BASICALLY
SHOULD WE BE AFFILIATED TO ANY
PARTY OR PLAY BOTH SIDES OF THE
FENCE, LIBERALS AND NDP AND, OF
COURSE, THAT BECAME THE ISSUE
AND THAT WHOLE NOTION OF
STRATEGIC VOTING SPREAD TO OTHER
UNION LEADERS WHO ADOPTED IT AND
BASICALLY SOME OF THE UNIONS
STOOD ON THE FENCE, THEY DON'T
WANT TO NECESSARILY GET INVOLVED
AND SAY TO THEIR MEMBERS, WE
THINK YOU SHOULD SUPPORT THE
NDP.
SO THERE ARE FAR TOO MANY UNION
LEADERS LIKE THAT EXCLUSIVE
SUPPORTING THE NDP.
I'D SAY THE MAJORITY ARE SITTING
ON THE FENCE WITH STRATEGIC
VOTING.
AND IT DRAWS IN THE MIDDLE OF AN
ELECTION, IT SPLITS THE VOTE
BETWEEN THE LIBERALS AND THE NDP
AND IN MOST CASES, WE END UP
ELECTING CONSERVATIVES.

The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman; Producer: Steve Paikin, @spaikin."

Steve says I GOT TO TELL YOU, I
ENJOYED THE BOOK VERY MUCH.
WE GOT THROUGH THE WHOLE
INTERVIEW WITHOUT YOU TELLING ME
TO GO "F" MYSELF.
SO REALLY QUITE AMAZING.
SID RYAN, A GRANDER VISION.
CYRIL RYAN, GOOD TO HAVE YOU AT
TVO ONCE AGAIN.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Sid says It's Patrick CYRIL RYAN, BY
THE WAY.

Steve says THERE YOU GO.
PATRICK CYRIL RYAN, THANK YOU
VERY MUCH, SIR.

Sid says PLEASURE.

Watch: Sid Ryan: A Lifetime in Labour