In 1944, 400 Ontario Hydro engineers united to demand better working conditions. Facing a changing world, they couldn’t know what challenges awaited them, but they knew they would face them together. For over 70 years, we have grown, adapted, and fought, collectively, to uphold our professional standards, and the rights all workers deserve.
Throughout our first 50 years we suffered bracing setbacks as governments revoked our right as engineers to form a union, and earned hard-fought victories as we made every effort to negotiate collectively with our employer. Throughout we remained resolute in our commitment to our work—and each other. Following the NDP’s 1990 election, engineers were finally granted collective bargaining rights. In 1992, we negotiated our first real union contract since 1944.
By 1999 our members were under attack again as Mike Harris’s Conservatives split up Ontario Hydro and privatized as much as they could. For the first time we had multiple employers, including some owned by multinational corporations. It was time to join the rest of the labour movement. In 2002, we affiliated to the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) as Local 160. This led the Society into the labour movement as active participants in the Canadian Labour Congress, Ontario Federation of Labour and local labour councils.
As engineers who had long been excluded from collective bargaining rights, we were committed to bringing other professionals along with us in the labour movement. The Society waged a seven-year fight for Legal Aid Ontario lawyers’ collective bargaining rights, ultimately winning a voluntary recognition agreement in 2016 that would set the stage for many more organizing victories. At almost 9,000 members across Ontario, the Society has never been bigger or stronger than it is today.
We are problem solvers, experts, and innovators. We are professionals of many stripes, growing to meet the demands of our rapidly changing world with reason, compassion, and ingenuity. We are the Society of United Professionals— the union of choice for Ontario’s professional workers.