On November 7, the Ministry of the Solicitor General (SolGen) indicated that they were informing Sergeants who had elected to move into Corporal (Correctional Supervisor) positions that they would instead be assigned into vacant Staff Sergeant positions in the Ministry.
Since the 2022 decision from the Grievance Settlement Board (GSB), which directed the employer and OPSEU/SEFPO to work together to determine next steps regarding the representation of Sergeants, there has been little appetite from the Employer to engage in any form of negotiation. Instead, the Employer’s response was to eliminate the Sergeant position and create a new position and classification within the OPSEU/SEFPO Correctional Bargaining Unit – the Corporal position classified in the new Correctional Supervisor classification.
The Employer’s plan was to directly assign excluded managers into bargaining unit positions. OPSEU/SEFPO advised early on in this process concerns with the method of filling of these newly created positions and that any method of filling needed to be in compliance with the Correctional Bargaining Unit Collective Agreement – specifically Article 6 Posting and Filling of Vacancies or New Positions. OPSEU/SEFPO maintained that a negotiated outcome was preferable given the impact this would have on current employees.
The Employer ignored this warning on compliance with Article 6 and in March 2023, without any negotiations with OPSEU/SEFPO, began issuing election letters to current Sergeants providing them the option to be directly assigned to the newly created Corporal position within the OPSEU/SEFPO Correctional Bargaining Unit. In response, OPSEU/SEFPO filed several policy grievances, including one on the posting and filling of the new Corporal position. This grievance was ultimately upheld at the GSB in the June 2023 decision. The Arbitrator ruled that the language in the collective agreement on posting and filling of positions must prevail in this situation and that the Employer is unable to directly assign excluded employees to newly created bargaining unit positions. The Arbitrator then remitted the issue of remedy to the parties.
Following the decision, through counsel, OPSEU/SEFPO proposed an increase to the contingent of Corporal (Correctional Supervisor) positions allocated by the Employer, including a Corporal position being allocated to each institution, in exchange for allowing the direct assignment of excluded employees. This would have led to a permanent increase to the overall complement of Corporal positions, and a promotional pathway to a Corporal position in each institution. This opening offer was based on OPSEU/SEFPO’s site-by-site review of positions completing work which would warrant exclusion from the bargaining unit as outlined in legislation (e.g. Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act).
The Employer did not respond to the offer in a meaningful manner. On October 19, 2023, despite several attempts to follow-up on the offer, OPSEU/SEFPO received a response from the Employer that no agreement could be reached on the issue of directly assigning Sergeants. The Employer advised in that communication that to be in compliance with the June 2023 GSB decision, any excluded employees would be required to compete for positions within the bargaining unit.
Following this news, OPSEU/SEFPO again reached out and attempted to negotiate a solution. The parties agreed to have further discussions at the October 26, 2023, MERC meeting. At the meeting OPSEU/SEFPO MERC presented another scenario which would have allowed for the employer to directly assign positions while increasing the total number of Corporal positions from 182 to approximately 254 and aligned the parties’ interests of maintaining compliance with the Correctional Bargaining Unit Collective Agreement. Again, the Employer rejected OPSEU/SEFPO’s offer with no counteroffer provided.
The Employer advised the following:
- They would be absorbing all current Sergeants into vacant Staff Sergeant positions;
- They would make offers based on the results of the May 2023 competition as posted without any reach-back to fill additional positions;
- The balance of the permanent Corporal positions would be posted in the future for competition and any excluded employee would need to participate in the competition if they were interested in a Corporal position.
The Employer requested that OPSEU/SEFPO maintain confidentiality until they were able to hold a meeting with the impacted Sergeants to provide an update on that issue. OPSEU/SEFPO was informed that this meeting occurred on November 7, 2023.
OPSEU/SEFPO remains disappointed and dissatisfied with the outcome of this situation and the lack of interest displayed by the Employer to negotiate a solution that would meet the interests of the Parties. OPSEU/SEFPO has active policy grievances at the GSB on whether the work being completed by the expanded Staff Sergeant cadre is all work that ought to be excluded from the bargaining unit, or if some of the Staff Sergeant positions ought to be included in the bargaining unit. Discussions on next steps on how to proceed with those grievances are ongoing with assigned counsel.
We will continue to provide information on new developments to members of OPSEU/SEFPO’s Correctional Bargaining Unit, and all Sergeants who have signed up for updates. If you are a Sergeant who works for the Ministry of the Solicitor General in Ontario and would like to receive updates, join our contact list at opseu.org/corsergeants.