Convention Update Day 1 – May 8, 2014

Tom Cochrane plays guitar and signs in to a microphone.

Stanley Knowles Humanitarian Award

OPSEU honours Canadian music legend Tom Cochrane

Tom CochraneTom Cochrane may be best known for his 1991 billboard-topping hit Life Is A Highway, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.  Cochrane was born in Manitoba in 1953. His family relocated to Ontario when he was just 4 years old.  Cochrane took up the guitar by age 11, and by his 20s he was performing in coffee houses across Canada. 

Tom Cochrane has won eight Junos, is a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

His 1991 tour de force, Mad Mad World, became one of the biggest-selling Canadian records of all time, scoring diamond status in Canada.  Selling over three million albums in international sales led Cochrane to become a Canadian icon.

Throughout his career, Cochrane has thrown his support behind a wide range of worthy causes.  He has traveled to Africa eight times on behalf of World Vision, has helped spearhead Canada for Asia, has entertained the troops in Afghanistan, and continues to lend his support to several other causes. 

Honourary Lifetime Membership Award

Patty Rout 

Patty RoutPatty Rout was active in OPSEU from the first time she was hired at Oshawa General Hospital. She came to Oshawa General from Alberta where she had also been an activist. Patty represented the members at Local 348 in grievances, labour management, Health and Safety and bargaining.  Patty’s activism in the local led her to positions at the sector level and eventually OPSEU’s Executive Board.  

Patty served as Chair of the Hospital Professionals Division from 2000 to 2007. During her terms she was heavily involved and instrumental in assisting the seamless integration of the 2,100 Association of Allied Health Professionals members into OPSEU.  

During the early 2000s there were significant hospital mergers occurring due to restructuring under Bill 136. Patty was involved in negotiating the 905 Human Resource Adjustment Plans, GTA plans, and EORLA plan.  

Other key contributions that Patty brought to the Division and to health care overall was the legislation for safety engineered sharps and pandemic planning (after SARS).

Finally, Patty brought her dedication and commitment to OPSEU members by serving as OPSEU’s 1st Vice-President/Treasurer from 2007 to 2011.  

Mike Grimaldi

Mike GrimaldiMike Grimaldi has spent over 40 years in the labour movement, being a member of several different unions during that time. He wasted no time in becoming an activist when, at age 16, he organized a slowdown of the line in a plant where his dad was the foreman. 

Mike was an OPS member in the Office of the Worker Advisor where he did WSIB appeals for people who didn’t have unions. He spent six years as Leah Casselman’s executive assistant and then was elected to the OPSEU Executive Board in 2007. Mike was Regional Vice-President for all of his six years on the Board.  

Mike used a lot of his skills running numerous Federal and Provincial election campaigns for the NDP, including the most recent successful byelection in Niagara. 

Even in retirement, Mike continues to fight for pensions and the rights of working people.

Will Presley 

Will PresleyOver his 27 years as a member, local officer, EBM and Regional Vice-President, Will was the source of many creative ideas and bold actions that qualify him for life membership status.

Presley’s efforts have left an indelible mark on our union. His creativity and hard work have helped to form the building blocks in the foundation of our union. This is especially true in the way our union trains and retains activists. For example, with Will’s help and guidance our union was able to offer the New President’s orientation course; daily Convention Updates; the steward’s manual, Power Tools; Editor’s Weekend; In Solidarity, a steward’s publication with member editorial control and a Pension Liaison Committee with a code of conduct for trustees. 

From 1977 to 1979 Will belonged to the Property Assessors’ local in Guelph. From 1979 to 2002 was a member in North Bay where he served as a union steward, vice-president and local president. He founded the Inside 633! local newsletter and won a national award from the Canadian Association of Labour Media.

He was on the Ministry of Revenue MERC from 1987 to 1989, and served on three OPS wage teams in the 1980s and 1990s. He was a team member for the largest 5.8 classification grievance in OPSEU history, in which 900 property assessors won a wage increase of more than nine per cent.
He served on the Constitution Committee and chaired the Resolutions Committee.

He was elected as a Region 6 EBM seven times and served three terms as the Region 6 RVP. When property assessors were divested to MPAC he became the chair of that BPS division and chaired the bargaining team.

From 2002 until retirement in 2007 he was as the Regional Grievance Officer in Region 6. 

Health and Safety Award: Individual

Mike Lundy, Local 737

Mike has been extensively involved in his local by furthering his own knowledge and by educating others. Mike became a Certified Health & Safety Instructor and has also taken on the position of regional representative for the OHCOW (Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers). In addition, Lundy has been involved with the Corrections’ Northern Labour Relations project, the provincial health and safety committee (Corrections) and is a contributing member to the provincial MERC committees. He has been and continues to be a driving force for labour, our union and health and safety in Ontario.

Leah Cassleman Award: Local

Local 128 – Sarnia Jail

Local 128 members fought for over two and a half years to save the Sarnia Jail, and they won.

The members of Local 128 were shocked to see the March 29, 2011, press release from the McGuinty government stating that cuts to OPS and provincial services, including the closure of the Sarnia, Owen Sound, and Walkerton jails, would help Ontarians “realize savings of nearly $1.5 billion over the next three fiscal years.”

Local 128 responded by utilizing the media to fight the closure. Articles from March to July 2011 in Sarnia and London newspapers got word to the public that this correctional facility was not “underused” but was “packed to the doors.” Transferring inmates to the South West Detention Centre in Windsor was out of the question for inmates, their families, and workers. 

In March 2012, correctional officers involved in the Campaign to Save the Sarnia Jail were fired. Local President David Esser continues to fight for his job through the grievance procedure.

After many TV appearances, newspaper articles, and radio interviews, the Campaign to Save the Sarnia Jail was completed in August 2013 with the minister announcing that the Sarnia Jail would remain open.

Leah Cassleman Award: Individual

Dan Anderson, Local 431

In late 2012, Dan Anderson and members of Local 431 realized the implications of a New P3 hospital to be built on the existing Providence Care site and what it would mean for staff and their clients.

The Providence Care site has been working short staffed and there were safety concerns for both staff and clients. In February 2013, Anderson and Local 431 organized an information picket to bring attention to the community the Local’s concerns.

Local 431 also worked with the Kingston Health Coalition, Kingston Area Council, and community partners to bring attention to the New P3 hospital plan for Providence Care. Anderson and Local 431 were an integral part of mobilizing the community, local unions and community partners in a plebiscite vote, and out of 9,885 votes cast, 96 per cent of the Kingston community voted to keep the new facility entirely public.

Not long after the plebiscite vote, Providence Care would face losing 60 full-time positions by March 2014. Anderson has worked tirelessly to ensure that the impact to his local is minimized.

Tim Brown Award

Local 4102 – Tsi Ion Kwa Nohn So:Te

Local 4102 Signing CeremonyRegion 4 board members were proud to nominate Tsi Ion Kwa Nohn So:Te as they are the first Aboriginal community union local in Ontario and maybe even Canada. This speaks volumes about the dedication they have to improve the working conditions for themselves and to improve the public services for the elders they take care of in their long term care facility.  

In a special ceremony held on Akwesasne lands, Chief Brian David and OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas signed a voluntary recognition agreement which allows OPSEU to represent the 65 workers at the facility.

Human Rights Award: Individual

Peter Thompson, Local 154

Peter Thompson works for the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) formerly Ministry of Finance.  He started working in the Assessment Department in 1989 in the Toronto office and then received full-time employment in Windsor. He has been involved in the labour movement for 22 years including work on various committees/caucuses. Currently, he is Chair of the Workers of Colour Caucus.

Thompson helped organize the first Region 1 Human Rights Conference (now called Equity Conference) and proposed the Workers of Colour Caucus which eventually led to our Social Mapping project.

Thompson has held various union positions:  Chair, Workers of Colour Caucus;  Investigator/Advisor, Harassment Discrimination Policy; the first regional human rights rep; Vice-Chair of the Provincial Human Rights Committee (PHRC); MPAC bargaining team member (two terms); Ministry of Finance Divestment/Transition Team; Vice-President of Local 154; unit steward; and steward. A highlight of his union career was travelling to South Africa (with the Social Justice Fund) in September 2012 as Region 1’s representative.  

Health & Safety Award: Local

Waypoint Center – Local 329

This year, OPSEU honours Local 329, Waypoint Centre, as a leader in Health and Safety. The dedicated leadership, accompanied with strong active members committed to health and safety, makes this Local of over 1,200 members a great candidate for the award.

In 2011, 250 serious incidents of harm were reported by staff and filed with WSIB including the striking of a body by a patient, verbal death threats, and harassment.

In 2012, these members filed 296 incidents in which 210 resulted in injury. In 2013, 291 incidents were reported with 221 reported injuries.

In March 2013, the Ministry Of Labour conducted an inspection at Waypoint Center to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Healthcare and Facilities Regulations. The MOL found that the employer did not have adequate personal alarms to summon immediate assistance. Also, it was found that unit call buttons were never installed properly, and in most working areas there was no emergency call system in place at all, putting staff who work in direct supervision of patients at great risk.

After several inspections, the Ministry Of Labour has issued several orders against the employer resulting in a much safer workplace for the members.

Rainford Jackson Education and Development Fund

Jill O’Reilly, ACORN Ottawa Chapter

ACORN (Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) is a very active community-based organization that is effective in working and achieving the goals that its members set, all on a shoestring budget.
Under the leadership of Jill O’Reilly, ACORN has accomplished several goals this past year:

  • They hosted their annual free Tax Clinic during which they helped hundreds of low-income and immigrant families prepare their taxes. 
  • They held a successful fundraiser for their biggest campaign—a campaign to raise the minimum wage to $14 hour within the city of Ottawa. 
  • They campaigned on a $10/month high speed internet access program that called for all private providers to supply high speed internet at an affordable price to those on low fixed incomes or the working poor. This campaign reminded the public that the United Nations has recently declared that access to the internet is a human right that should be available to all.     
  • They successfully lobbied Ottawa City council to pass a bylaw ensuring that landlords must provide working appliances and that they must maintain those appliances.

This is the twenty-first year that the editorial committee of In Solidarity has produced the daily updates. We will provide a record of Convention events and happenings.
Who we are: Virginia Ridley, Local 116; Lisa Bicum, Local 125; Sandy Green, Local 416; Craig Hadley, Local 5109; and Vern Saari, Local 659 .
Ex-officio members are Felicia Fahey, Executive Board Liaison and Don Ford, OPSEU Communications.

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