"Organizing isn’t a suspicious activity, it is a constitutional right fully given to workers. I demand the Premier and his government back off." — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
Toronto (08 Jan. 2019) — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), is calling on the Ford government to stop using police to try to block workers at the privately operated cannabis warehouse from unionizing.
"Calling in officers from Halton Regional Police to stop OPSEU from talking to these workers is not only a complete waste of police resources, it also violates their right to join a union," Thomas said.
"This isn’t a security issue. Our staff have a right to be there."
Ford using police to prevent workers from using their legal right
Halton police interviewed an OPSEU/NUPGE organizer who was working on a sign-up drive at the privately run warehouse at 2670 Plymouth Drive in Oakville. The Ford government has kept the public in the dark about the details of its contract with Domain Logistics, despite repeated requests for this basic information from OPSEU, the media and the Opposition NDP.
First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says OPSEU/NUPGE, which already represents about 8,500 workers at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, has a legal right to organize workers who want to join the union.
"It blows my mind that frontline police officers are being inappropriately used to stop a union from their legal right to organize workers," Almeida said. "As a correctional officer sworn to uphold the law, I know better than most the chain of command in the criminal justice system. This officer is only doing his job as assigned.
He added, "but given the level of violence associated with guns and gangs, police surely have better things to do. Ford should be ashamed. He and his government should stand down from this shakedown."
Freedom of association is a Charter right
Thomas pointed out that organizing is protected under the Charter in the form of freedom of association.
"The Premier has threatened Charter rights in the past with rhetoric and threats, now he is throwing his weight around in the form of a police interrogation," Thomas said.
"Organizing isn’t a suspicious activity, it is a constitutional right fully given to workers. I demand the Premier and his government back off."
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