“It’s shameful that while the centre’s CEO climbs higher and higher up the Sunshine List, these members are being asked to take home less and less.” — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
Hamilton (01 May 2018) — After demanding that the 60 members of OPSEU Local 216 take a significant cut to their health plan, the managers of Arrell Youth Centre have locked out their workers, creating a chaotic situation.
Lock out of workers creates chaos and instability in the community
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontairo Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), says it’s outrageous that the employer has allowed the youth being held at the facility to be caught in the middle.
“This employer should be ashamed of using kids in dire need of help in a power play against our members,” Thomas said. “Our members deeply care about the kids they’re looking after.”
“This lockout creates a massive amount of needless uncertainty and instability for these youth,” said Len Mancini, the chairperson of the Local 216 bargaining committee. “They’re being uprooted and sent away from what’s essentially their home."
“Locking us out isn’t accomplishing anything except making the rehabilitation of these youth much more difficult,” said Mancini. “When they return to our communities, we’ll all suffer the consequences.”
CEO received increases of $20K over 2 years, but wants to cut workers' health care plan
Arrell Youth Centre is a residential detention centre in Hamilton that provides secure custody and program services for up to 16 male youth. For the past 2 years, it has been operating at capacity. The members of OPSEU Local 216 have been without a contract since April 1, 2017.
Despite the fact the centre’s CEO received $20,000 in wage increases between 2015 and 2017, management is demanding significant concessions to the members' already modest health care provisions.
“It’s shameful that while the centre’s CEO climbs higher and higher up the Sunshine List, these members are being asked to take home less and less,” said Thomas.
The members have no WSIB coverage and already pay the entire cost of their long-term disability. And now they’re being pressured to pay up to $1,200 each a year for a health plan that covers less than their previous plan.
No rationale about cuts provided
The members asked to see financial justification for the health plan cuts, but management flatly refused and has now locked them out.
“These members at Arrell Youth Centre help keep our streets safe and sound,” said Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU First Vice-President and Treasurer, a Hamilton native and a correctional officer. “It’s difficult and dangerous work and they don’t even have WSIB coverage."
“The least these members deserve is a decent health plan. Instead, they’re getting a slap in the face. It's a disgrace," Almeida said.
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