New Year's Resolution:
OPSEU Corrections Division Prepares for Possible Provincewide Strike starting January 10
Members of OPSEU's OPS Corrections Division rang in the New Year with a clear resolution: to do whatever it takes to win fair wages, safe working conditions, and a strong contract that will give them the tools to start fixing the crisis in corrections.
To make sure that happens, Corrections locals are now working flat-out to prepare for provincewide strike action that could start as early as this Sunday, January 10.
The legal strike/lockout date follows the "no board" report issued by the provincial conciliator on December 24. But the stage for a strike was set by the government on December 18, when it refused negotiate on key issues tabled by OPSEU bargaining team after Corrections members voted down an earlier tentative agreement on December 8 & 9.
The result? Unless the employer returns to the table ready to bargain key contract improvements, OPSEU picket lines will be going up at correctional institutions and probation and parole offices across Ontario.
Supporting a Corrections Strike:
How YOU - and Your Local - Can Help
OPS Corrections locals -- including Local 551 (Probation & Parole Offices), Local 582 (Toronto East Detention Centre), and Local 5112 (Toronto South Detention Centre) -- are busy preparing to set up picket lines and run the kind of powerful strike to win a fair deal.
But if it happens, EVERY OPSEU member will have a stake in this strike -- whether it is the fight against provincial cut backs and for good jobs, fair contracts and quality public services, or the fight for specific demands that address the critical issues in Corrections, including a "corrections only" collective agreement.
So we are asking EVERY OPSEU local in Region 5 to discuss the issue at your next LEC and/or GMM and to start planning now for ways you and your members can support our sisters & brothers in Corrections. Here are some ways YOU can help:
1) Supporting Corrections Picket Lines & Actions
As Corrections members know, the stronger the picket lines, the shorter the strike. So finalizing a strong picket strategy will be a key focus for each Corrections local over the next week.
In the meantime, non-COR locals (including locals in and outside the OPS) can start planning now to bring a contingent to visit the picket lines -- and to support Corrections rallies, information pickets and other actions.
Stay tuned for more details on picket times & locations and other actions.
2) Respecting Picket Lines at Your Work Site
While 5,500 OPS Corrections members will be on strike, almost 30,000 members of OPSEU's Unified (non-Corrections) bargaining unit in the OPS will not be on strike. This includes hundreds of Unified members who work at Corrections work sites.
OPSEU will be providing detailed information for non-COR members in the OPS on how they can support the Corrections strike in the workplace.
In the meantime, here are some general guidelines:
- If there is a Corrections picket at your work site, ask your members to respect the picket line and any picket protocols that are in place.
- Members should talk to the picket captain when they arrive and follow their directions. If asked to wait a fixed period, members should do so.
- If it may not be possible to enter the workplace safely, members should contact their local president or steward.
- If necessary, members should call their manager to explain why they cannot access the work site and ask for instructions.
3) Refusing to Do Struck Work
Unified members who work at Corrections or other OPS work sites should not do the work of Corrections members ("struck work"). Instead they should continue to perform their normal duties as set out in their job description, and work to the terms of the OPSEU contract. Members should not take on extra duties that are outside of their job descriptions, and should not agree to voluntary overtime or unpaid work.
Members who are asked to do “struck” work -- or work outside their normal job duties that will help management during the strike -- should decline the request. If given a direct order to perform this work, members should comply and contact their OPSEU steward or local president for advice and help in filing a grievance.
4) Refusing Acting Assignments
As part of its plans to try to break a strike by OPSEU's Corrections Division, the government is expecting to run Ontario's jails, youth facilities and probation & parole offices by transferring OPS managers and excluded staff from other ministries into into Corrections work sites.
So OPSEU members in the Unified bargaining unit should NOT accept acting management or excluded assignments during a strike – particularly if the assignment is back-filling for managers who are being transferred to work in Corrections. Members who are already in this kind of acting assignment, should ask to return to their home positions.
And as with "struck work," members should not be asked not to take on the work of managers and excluded staff, and should decline if asked. See "Refusing to Do Struck Work" above for more information.
5) Making It Political
Picket lines are critical to any strike. But governments also respond to political pressure. So you and your members can help -- both before the strike deadline and if a strike happens. How?
6) Planning to Help with Strike Hardship
- Send an email to Premier Kathleen Wynn, Treasury Board President Deb Matthews, Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi and your MPP.
- Tell them to start fixing the crisis in corrections and bargain a fair contract for OPSEU Corrections workers.
- Organize a group of members to visit your MPP’s office to talk about the crisis in corrections and the need for a fair contract.
- Stay tuned for more ways you can help get our message across.
If the Corrections strike continues for several weeks, some members may begin to experience genuine financial hardship.
If this happens, non-COR locals and their members will be encouraged to consider making donations to strike hardship funds for R5 Corrections members. In the meantime, LECs may want to discuss how you can help at your next LEC or Local GMM.
Want More Information?
For the latest on Corrections bargaining and the growing Crisis in Corrections go to: www.opseu.org/crisis-corrections.
Save the Date
Region 5 Presidents & Activists Meeting:
Strike Action & the Crisis in Corrections
When: Wednesday, January 13, 6 - 8 p.m.
Where: OPSEU Membership Centre
31 Wellesley St. East
Join representatives from the OPS Corrections Division, your Region 5 Executive Board Members and OPSEU activists from across Region 5 to find out more about Crisis in Corrections, OPSEU's possible strike action and how YOU can help make a difference... Stay tuned for more details.
Planning to come? Please RSVP!
Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us who is coming from your local.