HAMILTON, ON, June 7, 2018 /CNW/ - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) will launch a radio campaign blitz in the Hamilton area this week to tell Banyan Community Services to return to the bargaining table with a fair deal for its 60 OPSEU-represented employees at Arrell Youth Centre.
"This employer locked out its employees at the end of April. And what has this act of spite accomplished? They've distressed already vulnerable teens and punished workers and their families for daring to ask for a decent health plan. This is no way to treat hardworking, dedicated employees in 21st-century Ontario," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
Arrell Youth Centre is a secure custody and detention program for young men aged 12 to 18. The Harris Conservatives divested it to Banyan from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services in 1999. Banyan is demanding employees pay up to $1,200 annually for a health plan that covers less than the previous plan, which was paid by the employer. They are ineligible for workers' compensation.
"We're hoping these radio ads will draw the public's attention to Banyan's outrageous behaviour," said OPSEU Local 216 bargaining chair Len Mancini. "These workers pour out their heart and soul for their young clients. But they've also got people at home who depend on them. When you're working in an inherently challenging workplace, a good health plan is absolutely essential."
Banyan CEO Kim Ciavarella recently awarded herself a $20,000 raise. Then she told staff that, collectively, they would have to take home $20,000 less yearly. When employees cried foul, Ciavarella locked them out. They have now been without a contract since April 1, 2017.
"To say this employer's actions are despicable doesn't go far enough," said Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer and a Hamilton correctional officer. "These frontline workers are being treated with contempt while the CEO floats even higher on the Sunshine List. The people of Hamilton have a right to know what's going on – and do something about it."
Local 216 is asking Hamiltonians to write to Ms. Ciavarella at [email protected] to tell her to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair collective agreement with Arrell workers – and get these teens back into the supportive living environment they know and depend on for rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
"These kids are being held hostage so the CEO can enjoy her $20,000 salary bump," Thomas said. "The people of Hamilton need to tell her they won't stand for this arrogance."
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
For further information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Len Mancini, 905-317-9366