'We want to know why these layoffs are necessary and to discuss reasonable alternatives.” - Paula Whitmore, OPSEU Local 535.
Toronto (12 March 2009) - Planned layoffs at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) will threaten programs and activities at the gallery and could impact the preservation of the collections, says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).
Management has notified gallery staff - members of OPSEU Local 535 - that more than 100 jobs could be eliminated through restructuring and organizational changes under consideration after an 18-month review that studied a number of U.S. museums. No details have been given.
“We want to know why these layoffs are necessary and to discuss reasonable alternatives,” says Paula Whitmore, union steward for OPSEU Local 535. “So far, the employer has stonewalled our attempts to get information, and only wants to discuss severance packages and eliminating full-time jobs.”
Local 535 members run education programs at the gallery, including activities for children and families. They also care for and maintain collections, exhibitions and the building itself.
“The people who manage the AGO are doing it with taxpayer’s money and they must be accountable,” says Whitmore. “The first line of accountability is to the employees who work at the gallery so we can maintain the high standards that are expected of the AGO. Any plans that will harm programs or the care of the collections are short-sighted and irresponsible.”
The newly modernized AGO re-opened to the public in November 2008 after a successful campaign that raised over $300 million.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE