05/24/2012 04:08 EDT | Updated 07/24/2012 05:12 EDT

Good jobs, pensions 'our rights,' CUPE says

Hundreds of people rallied against provincial cuts to public services Thursday in downtown Windsor.

The rally was part of a conference being held by the Ontario division of CUPE this week in the city.

"We need an economy that will work for all of us. Good jobs and a pension plan so people can retire with security. These are the things we’re here to demand because these are our rights," shouted Fred Hahn, president of the provincial wing of the union.

The union's chief economist, Toby Sanger, claimed there are ways other than austerity to balance Ontario's budget.

- Higher income tax on Ontario's most wealthy

- Increased corporate taxes

- Closing loopholes for stock options and capital gains.

"As you try to balance the budget, you should do it in a balanced way," Sanger said.

Approximately 1,000 delegates from across the province are attending the conference at Caesars Windsor.

Paul Moist is the national president of CUPE.

"We're living in tough times. Austerity seems to be the order of the day," he said.

Windsor has the country's highest unemployment. The private, manufacturing industry shed hundreds of jobs during the recession.

While Sanger sympathizes with those out of work in Windsor, he said saving well-paying public sector jobs is one key to economic recovery.

"Two negatives don't make a positive," Sanger said of austerity measures on the heels of a recession. "That’s exactly the time the public sector should be stepping up.

"We’ve been fighting for jobs for the private sector; more funding to go into Windsor. We need more stimulus for the private sector."

Jim Wood, president of CUPE 82 which represents more than 300 outside workers in Windsor, said the rally was intended to "energize everyone."

"It's a time that all union, non-union, part-time workers and people who don’t have a job bind together and fight back," he said.