Mar 10, 2000
Ready, set, PROTEST!
MPPs, Mike Harris and manure were the focus as two large demonstrations this week highlighted the divisions displeasure with prison privatization.
Tuesday, Mar. 7 saw correctional officers from the north descending on North Bay to take part in a noisy picket at Correctional Services head office. Members rallied at the OPSEU regional office then proceeded en masse to First Ave. West to tell the ministry just what they thought about the havoc being wreaked upon them. NDP MPP Peter Kormos and Liberal MPP David Levac both made the trip to lend their support. The demo made a stop at the office of Mike Harris, but (surprise) no one was home.
Over 65 members attended, traveling from far and wide North Bay Jail (Local 616), Sudbury Jail (Local 617), Cecil Facer (Local 618), Ontario Correctional Institute (Local 229), Toronto Jail (Local 530), Brookside Youth Centre (Local 337) and Vanier Centre (Local 263). Also in support were OPSEU members from other ministries and the broader public sector, as well as Cambrian College. In addition, Sudbury Labour Council and the CLC sent supporters.
On the morning of Mar. 8, the summer-like weather burned off the fog to reveal 85 members of Guelph C.C. standing with picket signs at the front gate of the facility. Local president Paul Hughes pointed to the large "For Sale" sign posted at the front entrance as he explained how the government was forcing his members out the door. Paul addressed the crowd while standing on the centre piece of the demo - a truck-load of steaming cow manure with signs in it saying "Stop the B.S. Come Clean on Private Jails."
Suddenly, three strange figures elbowed their way through the crowd. Uncle Sam, Boss Hogg and a very plastic looking Mike Harris were all grins as they proceeded to slap a "Sold" sign on the facility (no wonder Mike wasnt in North Bay). After shaking hands with the "Americans," Mike passed over large bags of money to seal the deal. As the press in attendance popped away with their cameras, the trio left while the angry crowd jeered and booed.
Both protests made the front pages of their respective newspapers. Kudos to Scott Mason and the members of Local 616, as well as Paul Hughes and the members of Local 233 for their great work in organizing these demonstrations, and to the OPSEU members who travelled up to 5 hours to join the events. It was a job truly well done.
More jails initiate action
The heat being applied inside the institutions shows no signs of cooling down. Local 229 (O.C.I.) and Local 719 (Kenora Jail) are the latest facilities to have acting managers step down.
Local 229 president Iain Hutton took things further as his local voted to ban voluntary overtime, stop all acting assignments (management or not) and unclassified employees stepped down from 40 hour schedules. "We know we are different than other facilities in that we offer offenders highly specialized programming and are recognized world wide for our work," Iain said. "However, the bottom line is that we are on a closure list just like other facilities."
Meanwhile, a new local executive at Local 248 (Hamilton-Wentworth D.C.) headed by president Edward Almeida has set the process in motion to bring their facility on line with actions taking place in the other facilities.
A full report on OPSEUs battle with the Corrections Ministry over their new "scheduling principles" will be included in a Lock Talk Special Edition on Monday, March 13. Watch for it.
A warning to all members
With the Corrections campaign reaching the critical stage, more and more sensitive information will need to be shared between the locals and OPSEU head office. Members are reminded that e-mail and employer telephones are NOT secure forms of communication. Employer e-mail is especially vulnerable. Please ensure that sensitive information (translation anything you dont want the boss to know) is only relayed through secure methods. The bottom line here is anything you put it in writing, you can be held responsible for. Lets use caution and common sense.
18 for the price of one
MERC member Mark Kotanen pulled off a coup in Sarnia this week as Lambton County Council passed the no private prison resolution.
What made this so special? Well it just so happens that due to amalgamation, this council now speaks for 18 municipalities. As a result, the following councils are now in support; Alvinston, Arkona, Bosanquet, Brooke, Dawn-Euphemia, Enniskillen, Forest, Grand Bend, Moore Oil Springs, Petrolia, Plympton, Point Edward, Sarnia, Sombra, Thedford, Warwick and Wyoming. This puts our count close to 50 municipalities. His next job is to now get the written formal resolutions from each of the 18. Way to go Mark!
If you havent already done so, PLEASE get moving and get you council on side. Time is running out.
Ontario Public Service Employees Union
Original authorized for distribution by Leah Casselman, president.