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March 17, 2000
Ministry issues threat to Simcoe County
Corrections minister Rob Sampson just isnt responding well to pressure these days.
On February 29, 2000, the 16 mayors which make up Simcoe County council passed the resolution opposing privatized corrections in Ontario at the request of Midland Mayor George Macdonald. On March 7, 2000 Simcoe County received a letter from the minister himself, expressing his dismay and accusing the council of relying on information presented by members of OPSEU (unfortunate for Rob that he didnt check his information OPSEU members did not attend that meeting).
In his letter, Sampson went on to say that council should have taken into consideration that Project Turnaround is private and located in Simcoe County. Little did he realize that the problems at the boot camp were among the factors that the council based their decision on to oppose privatization.
In closing, Sampson tried the bully approach. "I can only conclude that your Council has determined that it does not wish to have correctional facilities located within the boundaries of your municipality," he said. "Our government can certainly respect that local wish. I will take steps to ensure that no planning for future correctional investments, either for new or expanded facilities, will occur in Simcoe County."
Mayor Macdonald was outraged at the ministers remarks. "Threats now? Thats okay. I work very, very well under threats."
Members of the Penetang Superjail Liaison Committee were equally upset. Committee member Randy Robbins, Penetanguishene councillor, asked if Sampson had forgotten that the superjail is smack in the middle of Simcoe North. "Is he going to pick up the jail and move it somewhere else?" he asked.
If so, were sure he could find lots of help from the community to load the truck.
CAPP Penetang plans walk of hope
On March 25, 2000 the citizens of Penetanguishene/Midland are planning a community walk opposing privatized corrections.
Despite erroneous reports to the contrary, this event is being organized by the members of Citizens Against Private Prisons in Penetang, and not OPSEU. CAPP has, however, requested assistance from the union for logistical planning and support.
The walk begins at 12:30 p.m., with citizens gathering at the Village Square Mall on Main St. and proceeding to the town dock. Confirmed speakers for this event are Simcoe Liberal MP Paul Devilliers as well as Liberal MPP and corrections critic David Levac. Other speakers are awaiting confirmation.
CAPP has extended an invitation for correctional officers to attend. However, the main goal is a strong show of support by the members of the community.
If you are planning to attend, it is imperative that you contact MERC vice-chair Dave Graves at (705) 232-4543 or Don Ford at OPSEU head office. That way, we can coordinate our presence to best assist the community.
Scheduling negotiations moving ahead
Locals are now beginning to negotiate local agreements on new compressed schedules. The first item that locals should request is full disclosure on all issues affecting shift scheduling. MERC member Mark Kotanen issued a request to his superintendent outlining 25 separate information items the union required.
"It is very important though that you send the message that you will only negotiate with all the cards on the table," Mark said. Locals interested in obtaining Marks disclosure list can call him at (519) 336-6926 or e-mail him firstname.lastname@example.org.
A special edition of Lock Talk will come out next week outlining issues that are still outstanding at the GSB as well as ministry attempts at staff reduction. In the meantime, locals are reminded that all workplace actions must continue. This will help ensure that the ministry does not renege on agreements reached to date.
More councils just say no
In addition to Simcoe County, two more municipalities have opposed private corrections. Mike Oliver, unit steward at Local 453 (Cornwall Jail) had his council approve the motion despite the fact that many council members are card carrying Conservatives.
The village of Merrickville-Wolford is also on board due to the hard work of Andy Armstrong and his executive at Local 438 (Rideau C.T.C.). This brings the municipal council total to 57.
Time is now absolutely critical. Members must get out immediately and make the presentation to their councils if we are to have them by the opening of the Legislature. Do not, repeat, do not delay any further. Public support will win our fight. You must get out and make it happen.
Hamilton-Wentworth gets solid local support
New Local 248 (HWDC) president Eddie Almeida couldnt be happier.
At a well attended membership meeting March 16, members endorsed the local executive in their actions to support the provincial campaign. The local had previously requested that all acting managers step down, and the membership took actions a little further.
"Our members have passed motions to withdraw all good will from the employer, to let supervisors handle all inmate problems and to cover all the costs for recently released unclassifieds so that they retain their union standing," Almeida said.
Further to that, the meeting sent a clear message to members who refuse to vacate acting positions the local will no longer recognize members who act.
Ontario Public Service Employees Union
Original authorized for distribution by Leah Casselman, President.