The AGO has chopped staff once again, just one year after laying off experienced educators, collections experts and other crucial staff, and despite a recent cash injection from Ottawa
OPSEU local 535 has called on the AGO to "cease and desist" on layoffs while they are in negotiations for a new collective agreement. Union representative Paula Whitmore explained that key issues of their negotiations hinge around job security and layoffs. Discussing these issues without a ratified agreement would put members at risk.
On February 22, the AGO announced a $7.5 million contribution from the federal government’s Infrastructure Stimulus Fund and heralded the new plans for the Weston Family Learning Centre, including expanded art education programs. It was then, says OPSEU, that they should have sat down with the local union to discuss how to create a stable working environment for their employees throughout this transition.
"Why does this employer continue to fuel the fire with its anti-labour actions? asks Smokey Thomas, OPSEU President. "An employer which prides itself in promoting public access to the arts should sit down in a decent manner with our union representatives and negotiate a fair collective agreement before announcing layoffs of more of its dedicated employees".
There are 39 jobs affected, and many of these workers will be out the door as of April 1- right in the midst of a booming King Tut exhibition, with Summer camp season approaching, and with huge plans for expanding education work at the AGO. How can teachers, community neighbors and the public have confidence that their best interests are at heart with such brash actions by management?
AGO staff, many of them artists in need of part-time employment to pursue their passions, have worked hard and dedicated themselves to building a great gallery focused on arts education. They deserve a fair deal.