HAMILTON, ON, July 16, 2018 /CNW/ - A deal to end a two and a half month lockout at the Arrell Youth Centre in Hamilton is being held up because the facility's board of directors and CEO are playing games, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said Monday.
"It's time for them to stop being part of the problem and be part of the solution," Thomas said. "And if they're not going to be part of the solution, then the provincial government should clean house and bring in leadership who will be."
The foundation of a tentative agreement has been reached but Arrell's board and CEO Kim Ciavarella have brought things to a standstill by refusing to agree to a critical back-to-work protocol for the locked out OPSEU members.
The board has instead hired a Human Resources consultant, another high priced lawyer, to conduct an investigation into allegations the facility's workplace harassment rules were violated during the lockout.
"I've seen some knuckleheads in management in my time, but this crew takes the cake," said Thomas. "How can they accuse our members of harassment in the workplace when they haven't been in the workplace for more than two months?"
The other roadblock in finalizing a tentative agreement is Ciavarella's demand that no back to work protocol be agreed to unless she is allowed to personally sue individual OPSEU members. Ciavarella is apparently incensed that OPSEU pointed out that she received eyebrow raising pay increases while demanding the workers swallow a substantial cut to their modest health care benefits.
The health coverage cuts would have cost the members a total of $20,000 a year all told, roughly the same amount as the pay hikes that Ciavarella has received since 2015.
OPSEU First Vice-President Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says it's shameful that workers and the residents of the facility have been left hanging.
"This two-bit brinksmanship would be laughable except for the fact that Arrell's leadership is playing games with kid's lives," said Almeida. "Enough with amateur hour already. If you want to sue somebody, sue us. We'll look forward to seeing you in court."
The 60 members of OPSEU Local 216 were locked out on April 27, 2018 and the facility was shut down, forcing the youth to far-away facilities across the province.
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
For further information: OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas: 613-329-1931