There were lots of tough questions about CSN during OPSEU’s two Corrections telephone town halls on September 9.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas told the participants the “silent majority” of Corrections members understand OPSEU has much more to offer than the vague and empty promises coming from CSN.
“OPSEU has some of the lowest dues and the best pension plan in the country,” said Thomas. “We have more than 20 offices across the province. We have a staff of more than 300 supporting your grievances, bargaining, and campaigns. And we have a long and successful track record of real wins with the provincial government.
“CSN is making big promises, but try to get any of those promises in writing. They won’t do it, and that’s why I truly believe they’re just trying to get your money.”
OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, who is himself a Corrections Officer who spent his first few years as an FXT, said that he’s frustrated CSN is wasting everyone’s time and resources with this raid instead of helping unorganized workers get the protection of a union.
“When we’re strong together, we win. OPSEU helped Corrections members get their own collective agreement, and we should all be focused on bringing up FXTs and every Corrections classification,” said Almeida. “But here comes some out-of-province union trying to divide us, pull us apart. Unscrupulous managers are the only winners in this.”
Throughout the town hall, a variety of legal and labour experts laid out what’s at stake if CSN bullies enough members into signing cards so it can apply for certification:
- Years without any raises or improved working conditions because bargaining would be “frozen” during the Charter challenge CSN would have to fight
- Significantly lower pension benefits, with a much higher risk of increasing pension contributions
- Higher dues and significantly less support for bargaining and grievances.
Corrections MERC co-chair Chris Jackel thanked the thousands who tuned in and encouraged them all to continue asking tough questions to both OPSEU and CSN.
“We asked for this telephone town hall in the hopes of clearing up some of the misconceptions about how much support OPSEU provides Corrections,” said Jackel. “I encourage every one of our members to do a deep dive into what CSN actually is and what CSN is actually offering.
“When you’ve got the facts, you’ll realize that we have momentum now.”
Pete Harding, co-chair of the Youth Corrections MERC, said members have fought and won so much with OPSEU, the last thing most want to do now is leave.
“For a long time, we were tied to the OPS, and we didn’t have total control of our bargaining. But we demanded our own unit from OPSEU, and we have that now and they support us 100 per cent,” said Harding. “The division has to move forward – not sidestep, not go into reverse, not start all over, but move confidently forward.”