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OPS Table Talk 2014 Issue 2: Talks resume January 5

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The latest bargaining and mobilizing news for OPS members

Central/Unified Team

Your Central/Unified Team wants to thank you for all your hard work over the last several months. From demonstrations, workplace actions and showing your union colours, your activism has not gone unnoticed by the employer. Your support has been awesome, and has greatly helped your team.

Our next meeting with the employer to continue contract negotiations is on January 5th. Your support will continue to be critical in the New Year if we are to shift the Wynne government off their privatization agenda and stop them from gutting our collective agreement.

To this point, the employer wants to continue on a path to cutting wages, benefits and entitlements for every employee in the OPS. Our goal when we resume negotiations is to force the employer to recognize the contributions OPS members make every day, and deliver reasonable positions at the bargaining table. Again, we can’t do this alone. Your support will be crucial to our success.

We are a powerful force when we all work together. With this stress-filled close to 2014, we know that 2015 will be a year for activism, hard work and opportunity.

On behalf of your Central/Unified Team, stay safe over the holiday period and enjoy time with your families and loved ones. Rest up if you can…we will all hit the ground running in 2015!

Roxanne Barnes, Chair

Corrections Team

Your Corrections Bargaining Team wishes to thank all of our members for their tremendous and concerted efforts over the last ten weeks. After delivering a 96 per cent strike vote, our Correctional Division members have literally taken it to the streets.

Your Bargaining Team appreciates and respects the Provincial Mobilizers and our grass roots mobilization folks who have organized the January 5 province-wide Day of Action by the Corrections Institutions/Facilities and Community. Many of us are applying for the initial $1,500 from OPSEU to open our strike trailers.

We need to continue picketing institutions, P&P offices, court houses and MPPs’ offices…it has been extremely effective! There has been an outstanding presence at events by members both in and out of uniform. This does not go unnoticed by the employer, the community and other union members.

On behalf of your Corrections Bargaining Team, we wish you all a very safe and happy holiday. To our many members working on the inside – stay safe and take care of each other!

Tom O’Neill, Chair

Questions our members are asking

Q. Will we be on strike when the contract ends on Dec. 31st?

No. There is a process that has to happen. First the parties would have to reach an impasse, then Essential Services would have to be negotiated. A strike cannot occur until an Essential Services Agreement is in place.

Q. What happens if I am on vacation in January or requesting vacation then?

The contract will still be in effect, so vacations would proceed as normal. Managers should also be processing vacation requests in the normal manner until we either settle the contract, or are locked out, or on strike.

Q. What happens if someone is on TEI and there is a labour disruption?

If someone starts the period of salary continuance under TEI before the beginning of a labour disruption they would continue to be paid. If they were scheduled to start salary continuance after the beginning of a labour disruption they would not be paid.

If someone has been approved TEI prior to the expiry of the collective agreement and they are approved to exit in 2015 the employer will honour the request.

The member will receive their salary continuance after the labour disruption.

Benefit Coverage

Q. What insured benefits (basic life insurance, supplementary and dependent life insurance, dental, supplementary health and hospital including drugs, vision care and hearing aids, and LTIP) do we have while we are on strike?

Your benefit coverage remains the same as when you were at work. OPSEU usually negotiates an agreement with the employer to allow OPSEU to pay for your coverage. Therefore, you still receive your benefit coverage without incurring any out of pocket costs.

Employment Insurance (EI)

Q. As a seasonal worker who gets laid off regularly for one week during the March break, am I eligible for EI benefits if my regularly scheduled layoff occurred prior to the strike? What happens when I perform strike duties and get strike pay during my lay off?

Yes, you are eligible for EI. You would be required to report your strike pay on your weekly reporting cards. However, strike pay is not considered to be earnings for EI purposes, so it will not be deducted from your EI benefits. Since you will be on a regular short-term layoff (i.e., less than one month) you are not expected to be looking for work and therefore should not experience any difficulties when reporting strike pay to EI.

Q.  As a seasonal worker, am I eligible for EI benefits if my regularly scheduled layoff occurs after the strike began?


Sick Leave

Q. If I am on sick leave and receiving short-term sick pay from the employer before a strike, will I continue to get sick pay during a strike?

Once the strike begins, the collective agreement no longer applies. The employer no longer provides short-term sick pay, but you can make an application for EI sickness benefits. However, while a simple doctor’s note can be sufficient to establish a sick leave with the employer, EI will require a more detailed report from your doctor and they will make an independent decision about your eligibility for EI sickness benefits. In other words, being on sick leave prior to the strike does not guarantee your approval for EI benefits.

LTIP and Rehabilitative Employment

Q. While I am returning to work on a gradual basis, I have been receiving both rehabilitative employment earnings from the employer and LTIP benefits. Will I continue to receive both during the strike?

You will receive both only if you work as an essential or emergency service worker. If you are not working as an essential or emergency service worker, then the employer does not pay you. Your LTIP benefits continue to be paid by the insurer without the usual reduction of 50 per cent of your rehabilitative employment earnings.


Q. Prior to the strike I was getting both WSIB benefits and earnings from the employer. Do I have to tell the WSIB that my earnings ceased due to the strike?

Yes, if your circumstances meet the WSIB policy on Temporary Work Disruptions. You are required to inform the WSIB as soon as possible when your earnings cease due to a strike. At that time, you should discuss with your WSIB case manager your situation. WSIB policy requires you to report a material change in circumstance (e.g., a loss in earnings from employment) within 10 calendar days of the occurrence. The 10 days includes the day the change occurs (i.e. the first day that you are on strike).

Essential and Emergency Service Workers

Q. If I work as an essential or emergency service worker during a strike or lockout, what happens to my pension contributions?

For the days that you work, it is mandatory that the employer deducts your pension contribution and makes their share of the pension contribution. After the strike or lockout, if the strike or lockout period is less than a month, you will be required to pay any missed employee contributions.  If the strike or lockout goes beyond the first month, you can buy back the pension credits for periods that you did not work.

Stay tuned

OPSEU Communications will send out bargaining bulletins with updated information during OPS negotiations.

Stay informed, get involved, and show your solidarity and together we will get a fair and decent contract!!

Contact us:

Central/Unified Team centralbargaining@opseu.org

Corrections Team correctionsbargaining@opseu.org

Don’t listen to rumours! TableTalk Update is your only official communication from the OPS Bargaining Teams.

Your OPS Bargaining teams

Central/Unified Team

Roxanne Barnes, CERC (Chair)

Ron Langer, Region 1 (Vice Chair)

Elaine Young, Region 2

Betty Marchegiano, Region 3

Dylan Lineger, Region 4

Dennis Wilson, Region 5

Beth Anich, Region 6

John Watson, Region 7

Mickey Riccardi, Administration

Glenna Caldwell, Corrections

Cindy Falcao, Institutional and Health Care

Tim Elphick, Office Administration

Johanne Bourgeois, Office Administration

John Berry, Operational and Maintenance/Technical

Steve Anderson, Fixed Term

Ruth Hamilton, Staff Negotiator

Corrections Team

John McLaren, Region 1

Dan Sidsworth, Region 2

Gord Longhi, Region 3 (Vice-Chair)

Tom O’Neill, Region 4 (Chair)

Monte Vieselmeyer, Region 5

Scott McIntyre, Region 6

Barb Friday, Region 7

Anastasios Zafiriadis, Staff Negotiator

Original authorized for distribution:

Roxanne Barnes, Chair, Central/Unified Team

Tom O’Neill, Chair, Corrections Team

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union

Related: OPS Bargaining 2014 Index Page