January 4, 2002
OPSEU responds quickly to P&P crisis
The Probation and Parole campaign to advance public safety and professional integrity in community corrections has created a backlash for OPSEU members and activists. Several probation and parole officers (PPOs) have received disciplinary responses from the employer as a result of speaking out on the PPO driven
“Enough is Enough” web site.
A meeting to discuss the disciplinary issues took place between the affected members, elected representatives and OPSEU staff on Jan. 3. The union has scheduled a meeting with Ministry representatives for Jan. 8 to discuss these matters. These meetings will take place at the offices of the Grievance Settlement
The PPOs began a “Black Tuesday” campaign a few months ago to call attention to the plight of P&P and to support OPSEU’s bargaining teams in this round of negotiations. PPOs are protesting the serious public safety crisis that has eroded community corrections over the past decade. Critical staff shortages,
crushing workloads, rapid technology and policy change as well as insufficient support and funding of corrections have led to a lack of effective offender supervision and rehabilitation. Officers say that these conditions have put the safety of the public and probation staff in jeopardy.
“OPSEU will fully support these members,” said David Kerr, probation and parole representative of the OPSEU Corrections Ministry Employee Relations Committee (MERC). “The MERC team, Corrections Bargaining Team and OPSEU Head Office staff will be in the corner of these members. We will not tolerate any employer
abuse of our activists.”
Any members who have received disciplinary responses from the employer and choose to file a grievance are asked to forward an additional copy of the grievance to Eric O’Brien at OPSEU Head Office.
Management says no to buttons at the “Brook”
Members suspended for supporting bargaining
In a heavy handed attempt to foil support for the OPSEU bargaining teams, the superintendent at the Millbrook Correctional Centre has suspended Local 341 president Tim Hannah and chief steward Pete Wright for wearing “Enough is Enough” buttons in the workplace.
On Thurs., Jan. 3, both members received written reprimands for refusing to remove the buttons, which the superintendent found “offensive”. Today, Jan. 4, both Hannah and Wright were suspended from duty for the remainder of their shift.
Members at Millbrook C.C. have been wearing buttons to support bargaining for quite some time. The sudden enforcement of Ministry “policy” has left many members no choice but to think that this is intimidation on the part of the employer.
Ironically, on Jan. 2. Hannah received a congratulatory letter from the superintendent on his recent election as local president. The letter also states that the superintendent recognizes that his members are “headed into negotiations for a new contract with the employer and that certain actions will be utilized
to enforce OPSEU’s position.”
The superintendent decided to set a tone with the new executive exactly one day later. However, he must have noted that when word leaked out about the actions taken against Hannah and Wright, every bargaining unit employee on shift put on a button to support the two members.
Wright and Hannah took matters into their own hands today. They greeted members with coffee and donuts prior to the day shift and explained what was going on. Again, the members lent their support and all wore buttons into work. That’s when management decided to suspend Hannah and Wright, and threaten
disciplinary action against the rest of the employees.
To thank them for their support, the local sent in pizza for the members at lunchtime. And, as this issue goes to press, Hannah and Wright are holding a “burn barrel” party to greet members who are coming on and going off shift.
“What a difference a day makes,” said Tim Hannah. “One day, the superintendent congratulates me on my election, and next he reprimands me and then suspends me. When he said that he ‘recognized’ we would be supporting bargaining, he must have meant that he recognized it as a threat.”
Both the Central and Corrections Bargaining Teams have sent messages to Hannah lending their support for Local 341. “Our actions (and those of local management) do not go unnoticed,” Hannah said, “and will have a strong effect on successfully negotiating a new collective agreement.
Maybe a strong collective agreement is what the superintendent at Millbrook really finds “offensive”. But not as offensive as the ceramic urn that sits on his desk with the inscription “Ashes of problematic employees.” A sad commentary on the attitudes of managers in Mike Harris’ public service.
For campaign information, call Don Ford (ext. 442) at 1-800-268-7376 or (416) 443-8888.
Ontario Public Service Employees Unionwww.opseu.org
100 Lesmill Road, Toronto, Ontario M3B 3P8
Original authorized for distribution by Leah Casselman, president.