OPS Unified wage reopener: mediation begins!

Your OPS Unified Bargaining team is back!

We will be providing you with important updates during the Bill 124 mediation talks.

In November 2022, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice rendered a decision on the Bill 124 Charter Challenge. In this decision, Bill 124 – Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019 – was deemed unconstitutional, void, and of no effect. This is a massive victory for workers whose wages have been unjustly capped during a period of the highest inflation this province has seen in more than 40 years. The employer took our charter rights away and we fought to get them back.

The government has filed for an appeal on the court’s decision; however, they have not sought a stay on the decision which means the Bill is void and of no effect.

In the last round of negotiations, the parties agreed to the following Letter of Understanding.

Letter of Understanding – Wage Reopener:

“During the round of negotiations the parties agreed that should Bill 124 – Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019 be found unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction or the legislation is either repealed or amended in such a way as to shorten the moderation period or increase the one (1) percent restraint measures prior to the expiry of the Collective Agreement; the parties shall meet within sixty (60) days of the decision to negotiate a remedy, if any, for bargaining unit employees impacted by the legislative restraints.

Further, the parties agree to invite Gerry Lee, Mediator to assist the parties.

This letter does not form part of the Collective Agreement.”

As such, we will be going back to the wage re-opener table.

What this letter means is that the parties must get together to discuss a remedy, if any, for OPS Unified members. The parties are expected to come to the table in good faith for these discussions.

The bargaining team is meeting the week of May 29 and the week of June 5 to prepare our proposals for mediation. We then have two days of mediation between the OPS and the employer booked with Mediator Gerry Lee on June 10 & 11, 2023.

Mediation is defined as:

  • Mediation is a voluntary way of resolving disputes.
  • In mediation, a third-party mediator helps parties in reaching a mutually agreeable settlement.
  • Both parties jointly agreed upon a neutral third-party mediator.
  • Generally, during the process, parties move to separate caucuses. The mediator will carry messages – offers, counter offers, questions, demands, and proposals – between both sides to help the parties move closer to resolution.
  • The mediator shall be impartial and independent of the parties.
  • The process can be terminated by either party.

The wage reopener does not allow for the early termination of the collective agreement and so we do not have the legal right to strike, nor will emergency essential services (EES) be negotiated.

We understand the importance of keeping you, the members, informed. We will provide further updates as things transpire.

We appreciate your continued support as we navigate through these discussions, and we welcome open communication from you as well. You are welcome to email the bargaining team at unifiedopsbargaining@opseu.org.

In Solidarity,

Coleen Houlder – Team Chair, Region 5 Representative
Amanda Usher – Team Vice Chair, Region 3 Representative
Chris Draxl – FXT Representative
Chris Eckert – TECH Representative
Daryl O’Grady – CERC Representative
Grace Grieve – IHC Representative
Holly Sullivan – Region 1 Representative
Joseph Labaki – ADM Representative
Kevin Sprague – ADM Representative
Leslie Aiston – Region 4 Representative
Michele Morrison – Region 2 Representative
Shawn Burr – Region 7 Representative