All In: Worker Organizing Beyond the Mainstream Labour Movement

Featuring POWER, Justicia for Migrant Workers, and the Toronto Harm Reduction Workers Union!

7:00pm SHARP (Doors at 6:30pm)
Monday, April 27th
Nepean Room, Bronson Centre
211 Bronson Ave, Ottawa

Childcare available during event

The Punch Up Collective is excited to announce our contribution to this year’s Mayday events in Ottawa! With workers of all kinds under increasing attack, and with the ability of conventional union structures to defend and expand worker struggles increasingly in doubt, this event looks to some of the models of community and workplace organizing happening outside the boundaries of the mainstream labour movement.

Below you’ll find details on the event, a call for endorsements, and an invitation to local organizations to submit their own stories of how they have successfully brought people together and increased their ability to demand justice and dignity.


  1. All In: Worker Organizing Beyond The Mainstream Labour Movement
  2. Call for Endorsements
  3. Call for Submissions: How Has Your Organization Brought People Together?
  4. Call for Financial Support
  5. Event Details

1. All In: Worker Organizing Beyond The Mainstream Labour Movement

Workers of all kinds are under increasing attack, but the mainstream labour movement frequently seems unable to defend even its own previous victories, let alone expand worker struggles into new and necessary areas. Yet workers continue to come together collectively to demand justice and dignity in the workplace and wider society. Indeed, some of the most vital contemporary workplace struggles are taking place outside the boundaries of the mainstream labour movement, which is often handcuffed by a strict adherence to labour law, a lack of real internal democracy, and an inability to adapt to the changing realities of work.

Please join us as we hear from people speaking from the following organizations:

Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) is a grassroots advocacy group based in Toronto, Vancouver and Mexico City. Composed of migrant workers and allies, they fight for the interests of workers in Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program, including workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program and the NOC C and D Agricultural Stream.

Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineau Work Educate, Resist (POWER) is a non-profit, voluntary organization founded on February 17th, 2008. Membership is open to individuals of all genders who self-identify as former or current sex workers, regardless of the industry sector in which they work(ed) (i.e. dancers, street level workers, in and out call workers, phone sex, etc.) and to allies who share their vision. They envision a society in which sex workers are able to practice their professions free of legal and social discrimination, victimization, harassment and violence and in which sex work is valued as legitimate and fulfilling work making an important contribution to society.

Toronto Harm Reduction Workers Union (THRWU) is an organization of Harm Reduction Workers who are united together in solidarity, to improve their working conditions and to strengthen equality in the workplace for the betterment of the workers and those who access the services. They are a union of employed and unemployed workers committed to harm reduction with a range of skills, education and lived experience. They have come together in their common concerns to form a non-hierarchical democratic labour union with a commitment to mutual aid, social justice and the principles of harm reduction.


We’re really excited about this upcoming event, and we’d very much like your help in spreading the word. To that end, we’re seeking endorsements for the event from local organizations.

An endorsement would mean your name would appear on promotional material for the event, such as posters, emails, and our website. Your endorsement will greatly increase our ability to make the event a success by getting the word out to as many people as possible.

We intend to begin promoting the event widely in the very near future. If you’d like to endorse the event, please let us know as soon as possible.

And please note: you’ll see below we’re also seeking some financial support. Don’t worry if your organization isn’t able to donate or doesn’t want to – we would still love to have your endorsement for the event.


As part of this event, we are encouraging groups to reflect on solidarity and the power of organizing by submitting a short written answer to the question: “How has you organization successfully brought people together?”

These short submissions could highlight any event, action, or occasion your organization feels was successful in bringing people together and increasing their ability to fight for justice and dignity. Did you hold a powerful demonstration? Carry out a winning campaign? Host a successful community meeting? Fight off an attack by political opponents? Collectively advocate for someone’s right to justice and dignity? These are just a few examples of things your organization might consider ways for bringing people together, but it’s really up to you.

We’ll have these submissions on display during the event, and we hope this will help encourage discussion during the event, as well as highlight some of the brilliant methods groups are using to strengthen organizing power.

If your group would like to submit an answer for us to display, please send it to us by Monday, April 13.


If your organization is able to contribute even a small donation to support this event, it would be appreciated. The main expenditure will come from the travel costs from Toronto for two of our speakers, but there are a number of other costs, as well, including a venue booking fee and honorariums for the speakers and childcare workers. We will be finalizing a complete budget in the very near future.

If your organization is able to support this event with a donation, it would be very much appreciated. Even a small amount will go a long way towards making this event a success.


We’re still finalizing a few things, but the event will be held on the evening of Monday, April 27th, 2015, in the Nepean Room of the Bronson Centre. Doors will open at 6:30pm, for some hang outs and snacks, with the talk itself beginning promptly at 7:00pm. Each speaker will have 12 minutes of to speak, followed by time for questions and discussion.