On Saturday, September 23rd the OPS Unified Bargaining Team met with the employer and assigned mediator Gerry Lee for a second round of wage reopener negotiations.
The wage reopener clause – as outlined in the OPS Unified Collective Agreement – was negotiated during the last round of bargaining. It allowed the parties to return to the bargaining table if Bill 124 – Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019 – was found to be unconstitutional, repealed or amended. On November 29, 2022, Bill 124 was deemed to be void and of no effect.
Outside the wage reopener meeting between the OPS Unified Bargaining Team and the employer, there was a FAIR WAGES NOW Rally to support the OPS Unified members’ demands. Hundreds of members turned out to show support for the team and to send a message to the employer that we will not back down until we get what we deserve! We took over the lobby at the Sheraton Centre Hotel and we marched to the room where wage reopener bargaining was happening (see video). We missed the employer – they were conveniently on lunch – but we left them a message. This is just the beginning. We’re building our power with 30,000 OPS Unified members to demand more, because we deserve more!
During the first round of wage reopener talks, in June 2023, the employer had “no mandate” to negotiate an increase in wages – and did not come to the table with a deal. This time was not much different. The employer provided a wage offer to the Union that did not reflect the hard work and dedication of OPS Unified members. Nor did it account for the cost-of-living crisis and the nearly 10 years of stagnant wages OPS Unified members have faced. In addition, their offer did not consider the challenges around recruitment and retention in the public service.
The Union provided a counter proposal to the employer that reflected our hard work, and dedication to Ontarians, and would provide us with a REAL wage increase. Even though several days were set aside to negotiate a deal, the employer advised the mediator they were not able to make any immediate decisions regarding the Union’s proposal. Once again, the Bargaining Team was there to negotiate an agreement, but the employer had no authority to make the fair deal that we deserve. At this time, the OPS Unified Bargaining Team is waiting for the employer to respond to our proposal.
As the negotiations have not concluded, we are not able to discuss the details of the proposals. We are outraged and disappointed, and we know you are too. The employer continues to exhibit blatant disrespect for its own employees and undervalue the work we do. We won’t back down. We’ll keep fighting until we get the fair wages we deserve!
In the meantime, we need to keep up the pressure on the employer and Premier Ford. Use our digital tool to send a message to your MPP and Ford demanding fair wages now! We’ve pre-drafted a message for you to use, but feel free to customize it – your story could go a long way.
Take action: https://fairwagesnow.ca/
Together, we can show the employer our collective power.
Your OPSEU/SEFPO Team