Introducing your OPS bargaining teams
OPSEU members in the OPS have elected their Central/Unified and Corrections bargaining teams. The OPS Central Bargaining Conference on June 21 completed the two-step election process begun at the seven Regional Bargaining Conferences on June 7.
Prior to the elections, the 75 attendees, including delegates, Executive Board Members and staff, heard rousing speeches from OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and Central Enforcement and Renewal Committee chair Roxanne Barnes. As well, there were presentations on the economic and bargaining climate and mobilization from negotiations, research and campaigns staff.
President Thomas thanked delegates for stepping up and putting their names forward as potential bargaining team members. Thomas said the Ontario Budget, tabled by the Wynne government on May 1, set the stage for a tough round of bargaining. The re-elected Liberals are expected to table an identical budget when the Legislature opens next week. Thomas reminded delegates that the Budget contains $1.25 billion in cuts and facilitates further privatization. He said the union would continue to expose the dangers of privatization and the billions of dollars this scandalous government policy has wasted.
“Get in there and fight like hell for strong public services and good jobs,” said Thomas to applause from the delegates. “This will not be a nice round of bargaining but if we stick together, we can win a good agreement for our members and for our communities.”
CERC Chair Roxanne Barnes told the delegates that more than 6,000 grievances have been filed in response to the employer’s unilateral decision in February to make OPS employees pay half the cost of post-retirement health care benefits as of January 1, 2017.
Barnes reiterated President Thomas’ message that the Wynne government has been clear it will continue to demand austerity from public sector workers while downsizing and privatizing the services that people rely on.
“In this round of bargaining, we will be called upon to stand up for quality public services and for decent, meaningful employment not only for ourselves but for all who follow us into the public service,” said Barnes.
Central/Unified Bargaining Team (15 members):
Roxanne Barnes, CERC (Chair)
Ron Langer, Region 1 (Vice Chair)
Elaine Young, Region 2
Betty Marchegiano, Region 3
Dylan Lineger, Region 4
Dennis Wilson, Region 5
Beth Anich, Region 6
John Watson, Region 7
Mickey Riccardi, Administration
Glenna Caldwell, Corrections
Cindy Falcao, Institutional and Health Care
Tim Elphick, Office Administration
Johanne Bourgeois, Office Administration
John Berry, Operational and Maintenance / Technical
Steve Anderson, Fixed Term
Corrections Bargaining Team (7 members):
John McLaren, Region 1
Dan Sidsworth, Region 2
Gord Longhi, Region 3 (Vice Chair)
Tom O’Neill, Region 4 (Chair)
Monte Vieselmeyer, Region 5
Scott McIntyre, Region 6
Barb Friday, Region 7
The Central/Unified team bargains central issues for all OPS bargaining categories. Central issues include job security, benefits, job postings, vacation, and pensions.
The Central/Unified team also bargains category issues for members in four of the five bargaining categories, covering all members except Corrections. Category issues include wages and pay, hours of work and overtime.
The Corrections team bargains category issues for Corrections members.
Training for the bargaining teams is slated for late September. The teams will take the demands voted on by Locals in the spring and turn them into the union’s proposals for the bargaining table. Negotiations are scheduled to begin in early November. OPSEU’s collective agreement in the Ontario Public Service expires December 31.
At the Local level, the next task will be doing the research required at the workplace level to determine the minimum number of Essential and Emergency Services (EES) staff required and the essential tasks they would do in the event of a strike or lockout. This is called the EES workplace canvas and it is scheduled to begin in September.
The law requires EES agreements to be in place prior to a legal strike or lockout. As in the past two rounds of bargaining, the union and the employer have agreed to negotiate EES agreements only if the two sides reach an impasse over the issues. In other words, only if negotiations for the renewal of the collective agreement break down. The Local-level research helps the union make more effective arguments should EES negotiations be required.