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OPS deals: It’s yes from Unified, no from Corrections

TORONTO – Members of the Unified bargaining unit working in the Ontario Public Service (OPS) have ratified a tentative agreement between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the Ontario government. But members of OPSEU’s Correctional bargaining unit have voted to turn down a similar deal.

The government and the union signed the two tentative agreements on June 2. The Correctional bargaining unit covers 8,000 correctional workers, while the Unified bargaining unit covers the other 27,000 OPSEU-represented workers in the OPS. Unified members voted 81.7 per cent in favour of their agreement; Correctional members voted 94.7 per cent against theirs.

The four-year Unified agreement extends current working conditions but adds a 7.5 per cent wage hike over the life of the deal, restored movement through the salary grid, improved benefits, and an end to the dysfunctional Attendance Support and Management Program (ASMP).

“I’m pleased that Unified members ratified the contract,” said Mickey Riccardi, acting OPSEU co-chair of the Central Employee Relations Committee. “It’s a good deal that gives members meaningful compensation hikes and new benefits, including catastrophic drug and out-of-country medical coverage. This agreement puts us on solid ground to plan for the future.”

Monte Vieselmeyer, OPSEU co-chair of the Ministry Employee Relations Committee in the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, said the members had spoken clearly, and the Correctional bargaining team will soon negotiate a new collective agreement.

“The team will meet with the employer as soon as possible to begin work on a new deal,” said Vieselmeyer. “Since correctional workers can no longer strike following the latest changes to the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act, if no agreement is reached, outstanding issues will go before an arbitrator to be settled.”

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said he was very optimistic about the future for all OPS workers.

“Unified workers can now look forward to four-and-a-half years of labour peace, during which we can focus on rebuilding our shattered public services. We’ve already made real progress in the battle to solve the crisis in corrections, and the Correctional bargaining team has my unconditional support as they fight to improve members’ working conditions.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931