Release from OPSEU
Members of the Correctional Bargaining Unit of the Ontario Public Service have rejected the tentative agreement reached between OPSEU and the Ontario government on November 23. Sixty-seven per cent voted against the three-year contract.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas was not surprised by the results of the vote. “Is it any wonder that correctional staff are furious with this government? There’s a crisis in correctional services in this province, and in the judgment of frontline correctional workers, the government’s offer didn’t even come close to addressing that crisis.
“Just last week, inmates rioted at the Toronto South Detention Centre, setting fires, causing a flood and sending five correctional officers to hospital. On Monday, we saw a riot and hostage-taking at Thunder Bay Jail.
“Our probation and parole officers struggle with the highest caseloads in the country, while spending per offender is the second-lowest. Rehabilitation programs and home monitoring have gone by the wayside, and reoffending is surging. Lethal weapons are being brought into parole offices, but the government stubbornly refuses to install metal detectors, putting officers’ lives needlessly in jeopardy.
“This is a wakeup call for Kathleen Wynne,” continued Thomas. “Her callous disregard for the correctional system and correctional workers means every new work day is more dangerous than the last. It’s high time the Liberals took a hard look at the heroic service these members perform and the hazardous conditions they work under.
“I call on this government to come back to the bargaining table with proposals that recognize the extraordinary skills, commitment and courage required of correctional staff to keep Ontario citizens out of harm’s way.”
Thomas saluted the union’s bargaining team for its hard work over more than a year of negotiations.
“Our team bargained in good faith and came away with the best deal the employer was willing to offer in the context they were in at the time,” Thomas said. “Our members have just changed that context in a very dramatic way.”
OPSEU represents some 6,000 frontline correctional workers across the province.