Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), sent the following open letter to Lise Bourgeois, President of La Cité College, regarding the harassment of part-time faculty and OPSEU organizers by security personnel.
May 2, 2017
Ms. Lise Bourgeois, President
La Cité collégiale
801, promenade de l'Aviation
Ottawa, Ontario K1K 4R3
Dear Ms. Bourgeois:
I am writing to ask you to keep your word and to stop harassing part-time college staff, and union organizers, as the former assert their right to freedom of association under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the latter aid them in the process.
In a La Presse article dated March 17, 2017, your college's representative made it clear that part-time staff were free to make a decision as to whether or not to unionize. Pascale Montminy argued that the college simply wanted to ensure that staff and students are not disturbed while in the classroom:
"La Cité croit en la liberté de son personnel scolaire travaillant à temps partiel de prendre la décision qui lui convient le mieux quant à son adhésion, ou non, au Syndicat des employés de la fonction publique de l'Ontario… Le Collège n'accepte donc pas que des solliciteurs entrent dans les classes pour s'adresser directement aux enseignants alors qu'ils exercent leurs fonctions ," a indiqué la gestionnaire des Communications et des Relations publiques à La Cité, Pascale Montminy.
Since this report was published, the college has assigned security personnel to closely follow OPSEU's union organizers as they talk to part-time staff outside the classrooms, in the halls, and in the cafeteria. Our organizers, and part-time staff, do not feel safe or comfortable when security staff are following them wherever they go, often standing close enough to listen in on their conversations. One security guard told our organizers that they "will be playing this game every time they come to the college." These intimidation tactics are also being reported by OPSEU faculty officers and OPSEU organizers.
In 2017, La Cité was named one of the National Capital Region's Top Employers. Yet the college's aggressive interference in the current organizing drive is the behaviour, to be frank, of a bad employer, not a good one. La Cité is certainly failing to achieve the standard of behaviour that Ontarians expect of a publicly funded institution.
I'm asking you to ensure that the representatives of college management at La Cité change their behaviour. Do not let the college's name be tarnished by anti-union bullying. Direct your representatives to stop intimidating staff, our organizers, and our local union representatives. Allow your part-time staff the liberty of choice our Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees them.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your response.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President
Ontario Public Service Employees Union