OPSEU unites to erase workplace harassment


Toronto – Warren (Smokey) Thomas says he couldn’t be prouder of members and staff of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), who voted virtually unanimously today to endorse a motion addressing sexual harassment in the workplace.

“Today, OPSEU came together as a family – diverse in membership but one in purpose – to address a very serious matter,” said the union’s president. “As we always do, we undertook an open, frank and wide-ranging discussion. And we found a way forward. This is a defining moment for the union and a victory over attempts at division.”

Delegates from the 130,000-strong public sector union are meeting in Toronto this week for its annual Convention. Passed by over 98 per cent of members, the motion calls for a task force to be struck to review OPSEU’s harassment and discrimination policies. It comes in response to suggestions the union had not done enough to address allegations of sexual assault involving a former employee.

The task force is the latest in a series of measures implemented by OPSEU over the last year to address potential workplace issues, such as gossip, discrimination, bullying, harassment and assault. They include completely updated policies and procedures, awareness campaigns, videos, training and support.

“OPSEU has consistently been on the cutting edge of progressive human resources policies and practices,” said Thomas. “We as a union – and I personally – have been adamant that there can be no place in our organization for any form of violence whatsoever, whether subtle or overt, verbal, psychological or physical.

“Today, our membership and staff reaffirmed in the strongest possible way our continued commitment to a safe and welcoming workplace – an environment where the dignity and security of each and every employee is recognized, promoted and protected.

“What we saw at Convention is democracy at its finest,” he continued. “We witnessed union leadership and membership galvanized into action by an issue of the utmost importance. We experienced the unity and solidarity that is the key to our success, the promise of our future and the hallmark of our membership.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931

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