“How can the employer ask its workers to take a $20,000 pay cut when it’s given its CEO a $20,000 pay hike?" — Len Mancini, OPSEU Local 216 bargaining committee Chair
Hamilton (29 June 2018) — During a marathon round of bargaining on June 24, the managers of the Arrell Youth Centre in Hamilton refused to end the 9-week lockout by offering employees decent health coverage, even though they’ve admitted it’s something they can afford to do.
Employer continues lock out while giving CEO a $20K raise
“This isn’t bargaining, it’s betrayal,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE). “Our members went to the table this weekend with cost-saving ideas. But while the CEO enjoys the lavish raises she’s given herself, she’s stubbornly refusing to get our members back to work and bring vulnerable youth back home to their supports and their families."
“Perhaps the CEO hasn’t heard about the Premier-elect’s commitment to the 'little guy' and frontline workers," Thomas added. "Arrell’s tactics are out of step — $20,000 for the CEO right out of the pockets of frontline workers."
“This is exactly the kind of injustice and impropriety the new Premier needs to get a handle on," said Thomas.
Management asking workers to take a $20K cut through reduced health care coverage
The 60 members of OPSEU Local 216 work at Arrell Youth Centre, a residential detention centre that provides secure custody and services for up to 16 male youth. The members have been without a contract since April 1, 2017.
Throughout bargaining for a new contract, the employer has demanded the members accept a substantial cut to their already modest health coverage, but the members refused. On April 27, the employer locked the members out and closed the facility, forcing the vulnerable youth to far-away facilities across the province.
“These members keep our communities safe,” said Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU’s First Vice-President / Treasurer and a Hamilton correctional officer. “It’s hard, dangerous work, and they’re not even covered by the WSIB."
“I’m disgusted this employer wants to make a bad situation even worse by cutting even deeper into the little bit of health coverage they’ve got," said Almeida.
The health coverage cuts would cost the members a total of $20,000 a year, roughly the same amount of wage increases that CEO Kim Ciavarella has received since 2015.
OPSEU/NUPGE members provide cost-savings suggestions ignored by employer
The OPSEU/NUPGE members have repeatedly asked the employer to provide information about the health coverage cuts, but the employer has refused. Several times, the employer has even said that its “ability to pay” is not the issue.
And during bargaining this weekend, the members tabled proposals that could have provided “significant” savings for the employer, but they were rejected.
“There’s something about this situation that just doesn’t add up,” said Len Mancini, the Chair of the Local 216 bargaining committee. “How can the employer ask its workers to take a $20,000 pay cut when it’s given its CEO a $20,000 pay hike?"
“All we want to do is get back to work helping the youth and helping Hamilton,” said Mancini. “We’re trying to bargain. We’re offering cost-savings ideas. But the employer just doesn’t seem to care about cost savings, about us, about the youth, or about our communities.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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