December 21, 2001
“Thank God for my union”Unclassified officer reinstated after four year battle
On Thurs., Dec. 20, celebrations began early in Sudbury.
Dene Holmes, an unclassified correctional officer at the Sudbury Jail, got a Christmas present that he’s been waiting nearly four years for. Because yesterday Dene found out that he had been reinstated after being fired on Feb. 11, 1998.
Dene’s nightmare began 46 months ago when he was dismissed after a female inmate at the Sudbury Jail made allegations of misconduct against him. Shortly after the allegations were made, that inmate was given a permanent early release.
Peter Slee, an OPSEU staff representative (who has since retired), began an investigation to see whether a grievance to get Dene’s job back would be successful. Normally, it is extremely difficult to successfully grieve the termination of an unclassified contract. Slee doggedly pursued the case, and a grievance
was filed to get Dene reinstated.
Through the diligent work of Jim Paul, an OPSEU grievance officer, and lawyer Nelson Roland, the case got to the Grievance Settlement Board (GSB). But it became apparent that the employer wasn’t through with Dene yet. The employer took three years to present their case to the GSB.
The hearings wrapped up on May 27, 2001. The arbitrator released the decision yesterday, in which it was stated that the employer had insufficient evidence to dismiss Dene from his job.
Dene and the rest of the members of Local 617 were overjoyed when they heard the news.
“Thank God for my union,” Dene said from his home yesterday as the sounds of friends celebrating were heard in the background. “I am so thankful I have a such a solid group of people standing behind me. I could never have done this on my own.”
Dene praised the members of Local 617 for standing behind him and supporting him over the past four years.
“They are an incredible group of people,” Dene said. “They are more than just co-workers to me.”
Dene wanted to send a strong message to other unclassified staff across the province: Don’t knock your union.
“There’s a lot of unclassifieds in corrections who feel that OPSEU doesn’t protect them or give them any rights,” Dene said. “They don’t go to meetings or get involved in any union activities. I want to tell them that they are making a big mistake. OPSEU saved my job. OPSEU spent tens of thousands of dollars in
legal fees and travel costs to see that I got justice. Try doing that on your own. Until something like this happens to you, you don’t know how great an organization OPSEU is. Don’t sell it short.”
Dene sends a special thank you to Peter Slee, Jim Paul, Nelson Roland and the others who worked so hard on his behalf. He also thanks Paul Lachance, union steward at Local 617, for his invaluable help. “Paul stood by me from day one,” Dene said. “I couldn’t have made it through without him.”
Welcome back, Dene.
Members keep accused murderer behind bars
Public service correctional officers have proven once again that there is no substitute for experience and professionalism.
On Tues., Dec. 11, an inmate attempted an escape from the Quinte Detention Center. The inmate, who is currently before the courts on charges of double murder, scaled a fence in the yard, climbed onto the facility roof and attempted to break out of the compound.
Correctional officers, reacting swiftly and diligently to the escape attempt, quickly pinpointed the offender’s position on the roof. It was then discovered that the inmate had armed himself with a shovel, pickaxe and other metal objects that were being used by a roofing contractor performing work on the
Staff quickly cut off all avenues of escape for the inmate, and trained negotiators established contact with the offender. After a tense standoff, the offender relinquished his weapons and surrendered to a waiting Institutional Crisis Intervention team. There were no injuries.
Public safety was maintained that day thanks to the quick action of experienced members. We salute you.
New Mexico officers fired over mistaken release
Management and Training Corporation (MTC) has fired two former corrections officers at the Santa Fe County jail in the mistaken release in of a prisoner accused of rape. The rape suspect happened to share a name with an inmate who was supposed to be released on a valid release order.
As reported in the November 9 edition of Lock Talk, jail officials on Oct. 29 mistakenly released Javier Gonzales, a Mexican national charged in August with raping a 14-year-old girl.
Greg Parrish, county correctional services manager, said that in early November jail officials had obtained a release order for a Javier Gonzales accused of shoplifting, but the wrong inmate was let go.
On Monday, Parrish refused to release the names of the former corrections officers. “Two employees of (Management and Training Corp.) were dismissed,” Parrish said. “It doesn’t appear that there’s any criminal intent involved.” Parrish was hired by the county to act as a liaison with the privately run jail after
Utah-based MTC assumed its management in October.
According to the arrest warrant for the Gonzales accused of rape, he allegedly raped his fiancée’s half-sister at her home. The arrest affidavit states Gonzales threatened the girl, telling her, “you’d better not tell, or else.”
Santa Fe County Undersheriff Benjie Montano said Monday that the Javier Gonzales accused of rape has not been apprehended. “He could be in Mexico; he could be anywhere,” Montano said.
For campaign information, call Don Ford (ext. 442) at 1-800-268-7376 or (416) 443-8888.
Ontario Public Service Employees Unionwww.opseu.org
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Original authorized for distribution by Leah Casselman, president.