For many of us, the dream of winning the lottery is something we all want, but for the unionized employees of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming, a fair first contract seems as likely as winning it big.
Local 946 of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) representing OLG staff in payroll, finance and information technology have been working and waiting for a first collective agreement since the workers voted to be represented by the union in 2015.
“We’ve been trying to negotiate a fair contract since last year” said Scott Griswold, Vice President PSAC Local 946.
A peaceful rally was held outside of the Civic Centre Wednesday to bring more awareness to the public of what’s going on with the crown corporation and what it means for Sault Ste. Marie.
“We want to keep these jobs and we want to keep them here in the Sault” Griswold told SaultOnline.com
The union represents about 347 employees in Sault Ste. Marie, the “head office” of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming. The Toronto office employees belong to a separate local of PSAC.
So what is the stumbling block?, is the OLG stalling on a collective deal until it fully implements its revamped plan?
“you would have to ask OLG that” Griswold said.
The revamped plan is still an unknown and what implications it has for staffing levels for the head office on Foster Drive.
Casino operations are now handled by a separate for profit corporation, Gateway Casinos of Burnaby B.C. , the Sault Casino office will have its head office in London Ontario.
“There’s staff at OLG that support the casino operation and we don’t know what’s happening with those positions, they may move to London” Griswold said.
The company and the union are at a stalemate and a Provincial conciliator will soon be appointed to bring both sides back to the table. Employees say the company refuses to budge on wages and benefits and wants concessions on what the employees already have with a collective agreement in place. The union says it has only reached agreement with the crown corporation on 17 of the 65 submitted requests.
Employees had their wages frozen about eight years ago when the Provincial government froze all public servant pay. Since then M.P.P’s and Crown corporation CEO’s have seen their pay skyrocket.
The employees are seeking a fair raise increase as well as job security and description.
At one time, the modernization of OLG by the provincial government would have resulted in 90 percent of the jobs moving out of the OLG, the Province announced last year that it scrapped its plans on selling OLG but a new modernization plan was adopted instead, that led to the casino operations being sold off but still governed by OLG. The same is likely for other departments such as payroll and finance and internet gaming being handled by separate for profit companies meaning those jobs could still leave the city.
“The city needs as many jobs as it can keep right now” Griswold said.