OPSEU demands LifeLabs ‘housecleaning’ after management tried to fire pro-union lab tech

TORONTO – OPSEU is demanding that CEO Charles Brown and the entire executive team at LifeLabs be held to account after a series of mistakes and missteps – the latest being its clumsy attempt to fire a 35-year lab technician who is trying to organize her co-workers into a union.

The Ontario Labour Relations Board ordered LifeLabs on Wednesday to reinstate the worker – a racialized woman with no history of discipline before she started promoting a union.

“This is a just another shocking illustration of how rotten things are at the top of LifeLabs,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “First, they let criminals get their hands on the private medical information of millions of Canadians. And now, when lab technicians have never been more important, they’re trying to get rid of a technician with years of experience just because she wants to join a union. You’re a mean guy, Charlie Brown.”

LifeLabs is a for-profit company that was recently chosen to conduct COVID-19 testing in Ontario and B.C.

“I’m amazed that at a time when the health and safety of front-line health care workers has never been under greater threat, that an employer could be more reckless and heartless. To say I’m disappointed at this kind of anti-union behavior is an understatement,” said Thomas. “All I can say is this guy, Charles Brown is as cold-hearted and ham-fisted as it gets. It’s time for a reset at LifeLabs.”

Most LifeLabs workers in British Columbia belong to the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU). And most LifeLabs workers in the Simcoe area joined OPSEU in 2017.

The worker that Brown and LifeLabs are trying to fire has been actively encouraging her co-workers in Toronto to join OPSEU as well. Despite being assessed as “effective” in her 2019 performance review, they told her she was fired on March 18, shortly after OPSEU had leafleted her work location. The labour board has ordered her reinstated until a full board hearing can be held.

“Bald-faced union busting like this is disgusting any time,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “But for a health care company to try to silence one of its workers in the midst of this pandemic is just too much. It’s unforgiveable.

“We’re calling on the powers that be to stand up for their frontline workers. It’s time for them to clear out the bad bosses. This is a test of their commitment to protect the people who protect us.”

For more information:

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931