“We spent hours carefully preparing documentation that would support mediation. The employer had a month to do their homework, but they arrived empty-handed: no documentation, no brief, no new offer." — Chris Jackel, Chair, OPSEU Corrections bargaining team
Toronto (06 June 2018) — The corrections team for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) that has been negotiating a new collective agreement is expressing anger with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services after government negotiators failed to submit a brief during mediation.
Employer enters mediation refusing to change position
“By saying absolutely nothing, this employer has spoken volumes about its arrogant attitude towards correctional workers,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President. “They’ve essentially thumbed their noses at 8,000 hard-working folks who believed there would be real collective bargaining.”
The government refused to budge on the monetary proposals it put forward on April 20. The impasse led to a request from the bargaining team for conciliation on May 3. During conciliation, the government made it clear it was not interested in negotiating monetary items, triggering a request for mediation from the bargaining team.
“We hired an expert labour lawyer to help us prepare an extensive brief,” said Chris Jackel, Chair of the Corrections bargaining team. “We spent hours carefully preparing documentation that would support mediation. The employer had a month to do their homework, but they arrived empty-handed: no documentation, no brief, no new offer."
“It’s extremely frustrating when both sides agree on a mediation date, and the employer side fails to come prepared,” Jackel continued. “More than that, it’s insulting. It puts the lie to all their flowery talk about valuing correctional staff. If they had an ounce of respect for us, they’d have come prepared to negotiate. Where’s the integrity?"
“With this last setback, we’ll be re-evaluating our position," said Jackal.
Government's "transformation" of correctional system neglected to include money
Thomas concluded that the government had no real agenda to fix the crisis in corrections. “A month ago, they passed a bill they said would transform Ontario’s correctional system,” he noted. “But there was no money in the budget for corrections transformation. And now they’re tossing their end of collecting bargaining into an arbitrator’s lap."
“We’ve heard lots of promises during the election campaign, but just days before the vote, actions like this cut through all the rhetoric like a hot knife through butter. Ontarians deserve much better," concluded Thomas.
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