OPSEU’s leaders are congratulating LifeLabs workers in the Simcoe area for fending off a series of boss-backed attempts to break their union solidarity.
“On behalf of your fellow 165,000 OPSEU members, congratulations! These are huge wins for you, and for every LifeLabs worker across the province,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
“From the moment you joined OPSEU, LifeLabs has been trying to divide you and conquer,” said Thomas. “They’ve dragged their feet in bargaining. They’ve targeted your democratically elected local president. And they’ve spread fake news about union dues and the wages of non-unionized employees.”
The current CEO, Charles Brown, joined the company with very little experience in the health care field. Before LifeLabs, he’d been the CEO of the retail company The Source.
“I’m so proud of these LifeLabs workers for standing up to the boss,” said Thomas. “They see through all the corporate shenanigans and are saying to the CEO: ‘Goodbye, Charlie Brown!’”
The Simcoe LifeLabs workers joined OPSEU as Local 389 in 2017, but have had to constantly fight to get the employer to abide by the collective agreement – they’ve already had to file more than 40 grievances. The employer is also trying to discipline local president Renee Kearsley simply because she reported an incident of management harassment against her that can be confirmed by two eyewitnesses.
“We work hard each and every day because we know that the people in our communities depend on us for quality health care,” said Kearsley. “It’s disappointing that the employer keeps throwing up roadblocks about the working conditions we need, but we’re not going to back down. Providing a quality public service is too important to us.”
Another distraction came two weeks ago when a decertification application was filed with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. But during a vote on Dec. 4, a strong majority of workers voted to remain in OPSEU.
Meanwhile, the employer is actively working to intimidate and deceive more than 1,000 LifeLabs workers in the GTA who are also interested in joining OPSEU. It is using management “swat teams” to prevent workers from joining, overstating the cost of OPSEU dues, and promising wage increases that are only actually available to workers arbitrarily deemed “eligible” by management.
“This is a health care company, but they clearly don’t care about the health of their workers,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “In their own management memos, they talk about using ‘swat teams,’ against their workers. I work in corrections, and I’m startled by the language and tactics they are using.
“But the bosses are treating their workers – the majority of whom are women – like they’re dangerous criminals. It’s disgusting.
“I look forward to the day soon when these workers follow in the footsteps of their Simcoe colleagues and join OPSEU. We’ll give them the power to stand up to their bosses and finally get the security, the wages, and the respect they so clearly deserve.
“Look out, Charlie Brown because OPSEU has these worker’s backs. Then. Now. Always.”