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OPSEU’s President to OMERS: You won’t muzzle working people with threats

OPSEU and other employee groups on the OMERS Sponsors Corporation Board of Directors have raised concerns about changes to the board’s governing bylaws that could stifle the voice of the workers’ representatives.  

OPSEU members handed out leaflets earlier this month detailing the concerns they have about the changes. 

OMERS responded by threatening to sue OPSEU for defamation because it voiced its members’ concerns along with other employee representatives.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says OMERS’ claim that the union engaged in defamatory comment is nonsense.

Thomas sent a letter to OMERS President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Rolland outlining the deep concerns OPSEU members have about the bylaw changes.

“OPSEU members are rightly concerned about these actions and are fully within their right to express themselves accordingly through their bargaining agent,” Thomas wrote.

Here is the text of President Thomas’s letter:

November 26, 2019                                                                         WITHOUT PREJUDICE

Sent via e-mail

Barry Brown, Co-Chair Frank Ramagnano, Co-Chair
OMERS Sponsors Corporation
EY Tower / 900-100 Adelaide St. W.
Toronto, Ontario M5H 0E2

Dear Barry Brown and Frank Ramagnano,

As you are aware, the Board of the OMERS Sponsors Corporation (SC) held a meeting on November 14, 2019 to consider amending its foundational by-laws. OPSEU members distributed leaflets outside the meeting expressing our concerns around the proposed amendments. You responded by threatening to sue OPSEU for defamation.

Let me be absolutely clear: OPSEU did not engage in defamatory conduct. It is our duty as both a sponsor of OMERS and as the representative of thousands of OMERS plan members to advise you of our members’ concerns. This duty extends to expressing such concerns publicly so our members are aware that we are taking action on their behalf. Raising issue with the proposed amendments is also in the broader public interest, as the amendments affect the pension entitlements of ever-increasing numbers of public sector workers across Ontario.

In the past week, you and the SC Board have taken the following actions, among others, in a deeply procedurally unfair manner. You have eliminated the requirement for equal representation of Employer and Employee members on the Board; transferred the powers of the Board’s Co-Chairs to a single Chair with unilateral decision-making authority; and diluted the right of Sponsor Organizations to appoint or remove members of the Board. OPSEU members are rightly concerned about these actions and are fully within their right to express themselves accordingly through their bargaining agent.

OPSEU will continue to make these concerns known on behalf of our members.

Yours truly,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President of OPSEU/SEFPO

cc.          Fred Hahn, President of CUPE
OMERS Sponsors Corporation Board Members
M. Rolland, CEO, OMERS Sponsors Corporation
G. Cooke, Chair, OMERS Administration Corporation
M. Latimer, CEO, OMERS Administration Corporation