Below is a letter from Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) to Community Living Ontario (CLO) and Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs (OASIS). The letter responds to recent comments made by the two organizations which condemn picketing actions my members in Local 316 at Community Living Campbellford/Brighton.
March 29, 2017
Director, Communications, Marketing and Fund Development
Community Living Ontario
1 Valleybrook Drive, Toronto, Ontario M3B 2S7
5 Depot Drive, Bracebridge, Ontario P1L 0A1
Dear Mr. Laroche and Ms. Kenney:
I am writing in response to your recent criticisms leveled against my members working at Community Living Campbellford/Brighton who have been on strike since March 22. Both Community Living Ontario (CLO) and Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs (OASIS) have publicly condemned the actions of my members, and I want to take this opportunity to clarify some things.
First, I want to be extremely clear: this strike is entirely legal. These are peaceful pickets. And in fact, the community in Campbellford has shown immense support for the striking workers.
Second, my members would rather be at work. In fact, they returned to the bargaining table Tuesday prepared to get a deal with the employer. But management at CLCB showed a complete disrespect for the bargaining process and of my members’ real concerns.
At present, it is clear that this employer has no intention of bargaining, and no desire to get these caregivers back to doing their vital work. That my members are on strike falls entirely on this employer. If you want to talk about morality, as CLO has done in its criticisms of my members’ pickets, then take a look at CLCB management.
Staff at CLCB love their jobs, and they love their clients. They would love to get back to work, but not at any cost. Management must agree to reasonable requests for decent wages and safety at work.
My entire union is behind the members of Local 316, as are many citizens of their communities. That support was certainly on display when the striking CLCB workers hosted a rally on March 27. Yet CLCB staff are still faced with an unmoving bully of an employer. CLCB management has tried to intimidate my members by hiring scab labour and video recording picket actions. But my members will not be bullied out of their rights. They will stay on the picket line until a deal that respects their rights is reached.
I know they do not want to be there. They do not want to interrupt the care they give to the people they support. They want to get back to work now.
So, instead of questioning the morality of my members as they exercise their legal rights, please help them get back to work by telling CLCB to start showing workers the respect they deserve, and to give them a fair deal now.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union
c: OPSEU Executive Board
Community Living Campbellford/Brighton Board of Directors
John Mood, President
Sean Clair, Vice-President
Fred Wardle, Treasurer
Christine Hammond, Secretary
Marion Fennell, Director
Donna McDonald, Director
Paul Smith, Director
Stacey Brandon, Director