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Barnes to MERCs: stand down to support Corrections

A message to all MERC members in the OPS from Roxanne Barnes, OPSEU co-chair, Central Employee Relations Committee

Dear friends:

Members of the Correctional Bargaining Unit will be in a legal strike or lockout position as of 12:01 a.m. on Sunday. While the OPSEU bargaining team is meeting with the employer today and perhaps tomorrow, there is a very real possibility of a work stoppage.

Our Corrections members may be in for the fight of their lives. There is a crisis in Ontario corrections, and members are willing to go on strike to fix it – if that’s what it takes for this government to finally wake up and take Ontario corrections and correctional workers seriously.

For months now, the employer has been getting ready for a work stoppage. They’ve been secretly training scabs to perform the work of our members, even going so far as to build new accommodations to allow lavishly paid managers from across the OPS to live inside correctional facilities during a strike or lockout.

Yesterday, I asked for Unified members’ support by not accepting any acting managerial positions. Now I seek your support as a member of a Ministry Employee Relations Committee (MERC).

At this decisive moment, we cannot afford anything that helps the government carry on as though nothing had changed. That’s why I’m asking all MERC members to stand down until the current round of negotiations is over.

I know you've been away from the table for over 15 months. I also understand that our workplaces are in a state of chaos, as this employer moved forward with its agenda while we were away at the bargaining table. We have a lot of work ahead of us when we get back to the table, but at this time, I’m requesting that you stand down to show your support for our members in Corrections. In turn, I know we can count on their support in the future.

It’s crucial that we send an unambiguous message to this employer. We must make them understand that we are united and resolute. When any OPSEU members take a stand, we all stand with them. As long as the employer refuses to negotiate in good faith, it cannot – and will not – be business as usual.

I’m counting on you to do your part to help bring any labour action to a quick and decisive victory.

In solidarity,

Roxanne Barnes
OPSEU co-chair, Central Employee Relations Committee, Ontario Public Service

Authorized for distribution by Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union

Related: Crisis In Corrections Index Page