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June 16, 2000

Demo a roaring success

The weather forecast for Wednesday, June 14 was rain, rain, rain.

So it was to everyone’s surprise that the sun was out and shining on over 120 members who attended the demonstration at OPSEU Local 521 (Toronto Youth Assessment Centre/Mimico C.C.).

Rain jackets and umbrellas were quickly cast aside as members lined the sidewalks to protest Corrections Ministry plans to privatize jails and boot camps across the province. And to make sure that no one got too weak from exertion, two barbecues provided lunch.

Roger Hogue, head of the Local 521 anti-privatization committee and chief organizer of the event, was amazed at the turnout. “This is phenomenal,” Roger said. “I am absolutely stunned at the attendance here today.”

Members from TYAC/Mimico C.C. were joined by staff from Toronto East D.C., Toronto West D.C., Toronto (Don) Jail, Vanier Centre, Ontario Correctional Institute, Hamilton-Wentworth D.C., Barrie Jail and Brookside Youth Centre. Even members of the public stopped by to lend their support.

As the event reached its peak, the crowd gathered to listen to guest speakers invited to the demonstration.

Peter Harding, president of Local 337 (Brookside Youth Centre), led with an essay he wrote on the dangers of Corrections Minister Rob Sampson’s privatization scheme. “I am concerned that the current government will be wasting my tax dollars on foreign corporations and jeopardizing my family’s safety as privatization is forced upon Ontario,” Harding said. He outlined the deficiencies of Ontario’s first private boot camp, Camp Turnaround, and refuted Sampson’s claim that the camp only has a 40 percent recidivism rate. “As of February of this year the true recidivism rate is 68 per cent. This figure means that almost 7 out of 10 offenders who go to Turnaround return to crime within one year.”

MPP Corrections Critics Peter Kormos (NDP) and David Levac (Liberal) were also on hand for the demo and left no doubts about their dedication to stopping the Sampson agenda.

David Levac praised the members for their hard work in trying to preserve professional publicly-run corrections. “We must break the bubble of lies and deceit of the Tory government,” Levac said. “We must expose the truth and spread that message across Ontario.”

Peter Kormos was very blunt, and had a special message for the Corrections Minister. “Hear this, Rob Sampson,” shouted Kormos. “If you want to know how to run corrections in Ontario, spend a little less time with your $1,000-a-day consultants and spend a little more time with the men and women who staff our prisons and institutions in this province.” Both MPPs received a roar of approval from the crowd.

Bill Kruger, president of Local 521, came forward to thank all those who attended. And finally, event organizer Roger Hogue stepped to the mike to thank all those who worked to make the protest such a success.

Although many people worked to pull off the event, Roger wishes to acknowledge the following members whose help has been invaluable: Greg McVeigh, Eric Green, Kim Lengert, Tim Bradley and Blair McKie. He also especially wanted to thank Dan Lebeau, who has been tireless in the anti-privatization fight.

And from all of us we just want to say: Roger, well done.

For additional pictures, click here.

Ombudsman sounds alarm about privatization

Ontario’s ombudsman says he’s worried that the privatization of corrections may reduce public accountability over the system.

In his annual report released yesterday, Ombudsman Clare Lewis said, “As privatization initiatives proceed in the Ministry, the issue of accountability in the treatment of inmates, as one indicator of overall security and efficiency in the administration of facilities, is likely to remain a matter of concern.”

The Ombudsman highlighted several problem areas in corrections, based on complaints of inmates. These included a lack of minimum standards affecting hygiene, health care, and recreation and exercise.

“With regard to health care, a lot of issues like testing for tuberculosis were brought forward by the union,” said Barry Scanlon, OPSEU Chair of the Corrections Ministry Employee Relations Committee. “We’ve formally demanded that the employer restore inmate health care funding that had been slashed. So far, nothing’s happened.

“On issues like showers and exercise, the biggest obstacle to improving inmate access is the 12-hour lockdown. With the way management is running things now, these complaints will only get worse.”

Thanks, Rob: Sampson endorses staff safety

In response to an e-mail sent by a corrections local president, Corrections Minister Rob Sampson has agreed that staff personal information must not be released to inmates.

“I can assure you that all security breaches, including the release of personal information about ministry employees, are taken seriously and investigated,” Sampson wrote. “Officials at the Peterborough Jail have reminded institution staff that if they have concerns about personal privacy they may provide the institution address and phone number, instead of their home address.”

Thanks to the Minister for clarifying this issue for managers at all jails and probation offices.

Union grievances filed

This week, OPSEU filed five policy grievances to address the Ministry’s failure to abide by the terms of the Collective Agreement (not that this is something new).

The grievances cover the following subjects:

failure to pay shift premiums as contemplated by COR 5.3.;

failure to post and fill all vacancies and new positions;

failure to pay the eight dollars to employees who work a shift comprising less than eight (8) hours, or who work an overtime shift;

failure to pay shift premiums for overtime work performed; and

failure to convert unclassified positions to classified positions as per Article 31.15.

For more information, contact your OPSEU Corrections Ministry Employee Relations Committee (MERC) members.

For campaign information, call Don Ford (ext. 442) or Carol Whitehead (ext. 356) at

1-800-268-7376 or (416) 443-8888. e-mail: dford@opseu.org or cwhitehead@opseu.org

Ontario Public Service Employees Union
100 Lesmill Road, Toronto, Ontario M3B 3P8
www.opseu.org  opseu@opseu.org
Original authorized for distribution by Leah Casselman, president.

 

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