OPSEU members working in numerous court houses across the province have been told by their managers that OPSEU was in agreement with the ‘new model’ for transcript production. Specifically, these managers allege that we agreed to:
- The privatization of transcripts.
- Eliminating court reporters right of first refusal of the transcript.
- Enshrine precarious work.
- Disallowing court records management staff to accept orders from same courthouse.
- Disallowing transcripts to be given to dangerous offenders in the safety of court house.
- Give up benefits, pension and health and safety provisions.
- Take transcript binding equipment away
- Disallowing MAG reporters to have contact with ordering parties in courthouse
- Disallowing a level playing field with non-MAG transcriptionists
- Reclassification of court reporter positions.
It’s time to set the record straight.
We did not agree to any of the above allegations. To be clear: these actions were undertaken unilaterally by the employer.
These are just some of the actions the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) has taken since it contracted out the transcript production of court proceedings effective June 9, 2014.
OPSEU and your MAG Ministry Employee Relations Committee (MERC) did not in anyway request, advocate for, agree to or sign off on any of the above.
Your MERC and OPSEU have consistently fought for, and have advocated on behalf of, court reporters. Since Vice-Chair Abramsky determined that transcription production was the bargaining unit work of the court reporter in July 2006, it has been OPSEU’s position that a court reporter’s job must be a full-time position. We have never waivered.
Our position has been consistent: the reporter who takes the record should prepare the transcript. Furthermore: overtime, benefits and pension credits should apply to transcript production.
The ministry chose to ignore Abramsky’s decision and OPSEU consistently returned to the Grievance Settlement Board (GSB) in an effort to force the ministry to comply with the Abramsky decision. The ministry ultimately decided to privatize the transcript portion of the court reporters job, rather than recognize the work as bargaining unit work which would be covered by the collective agreement.
The ministry itself has claimed that for the accuracy of the record, the transcript should be produced by the reporter who took the record. The new model is in defiance of that long-held position.
The ministry could have done the right thing for reporters by signing off on grievances at any point in the process. Instead, the ministry has consistently battled its own employees and ultimately took the position that MAG could not be held accountable by the courts for their actions.
The two parties signed a Memorandum of Settlement (MOS) on March 3, 2014, in which the ministry was held to account for its actions. As a result of the MOS, MAG now has to pay out millions of dollars to compensate all court reporters for the ministry’s actions dating back to 2003.
OPSEU is working to ensure that the processes for accessing the provisions of either the lump sum payment or pension option of the MOS are properly implemented by the employer as soon as possible.
Some members have been told that if we had not signed the MOS, the employer could not have proceeded with its plans for privatization. The GSB was clear in its rulings that the court reporter grievance awards in question could not be used to stop the employers' plans to contract out transcript production.
MAG did not disclose the details of the conditions it would be imposing on court reporters until just before the transition to the private contractor model. Some members believe that these current actions by the ministry are in retaliation for the MOS. This is impossible to verify for certain, however it’s clear that the employer has had its plans in the works to privatize transcript production for many years prior to the MOS.
The MOS ensures that OPSEU reserves the right to file subsequent grievances or to pursue any other legal actions with respect to the new transcript production model.