Tbnewswatch Local News
Saturday July 4 2015
1:03 AM EDT
2014-06-09 at 16:42

Labour rally

Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- Ontario correctional officers are gearing up for a possible work stoppage more than six months before their collective bargaining agreement expires.

Local workers held a rally in front of the Thunder Bay District Jail on MacDougall Street Monday morning, in conjunction with similar demonstrations at other facilities ranging north from Barrie.

Michael Lundy, OPSEU Local 737 president and correctional officer at the district jail, said the union is receiving strong signals from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services that the process of negotiating a new contract might turn into a fight.
Lundy believes renovations that began earlier this year are meant to house the managers who will be running the jail in the event of a labour dispute.

“We haven’t even said what we want. They’re drawing a line in the sand and saying there’s going to be a work stoppage,” Lundy said. “My belief is they’re trying to intimidate and scare the members into thinking they’re going to lock us out.”

The union hasn’t established their negotiating team and declared what they be seeking from the agreement.
Despite that, local correctional officers have a list of issues they would like to see addressed.

Shawn Bradshaw, who is a correctional officer at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre and OPSEU Local 708 president, said cuts to staffing have put the safety of all involved at risk.

He said prior to 20 graduates of the Ontario Correctional Services College earlier this year hired into four northern sites, no new officers had been hired since 2010.

“Without the staffing complement we’re vulnerable,” Bradshaw said.

“Every day we’re vulnerable. We’ve run three or four people short at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre which puts everybody in danger, not just the staff but other inmates.”

The danger is becoming evident in statistics across the province.

Lundy said across Ontario an average of two correctional officers per day are assaulted by inmates and altercations between inmates have been on the rise.

“It’s a scary situation, especially when you’re understaffed,” he said.

Compounding matters, both Lundy and Bradshaw said, are antiquated facilities that are no longer useful and are limiting what can be done to rehabilitate the prisoners.

Programs, such as addiction management and mental health support, are not offered due to a lack of space and personnel.
Lundy the lack of programs undermines the mission of what should be happening in the facilities.

“In my opinion the term corrections is to fix a mistake,” Lundy said. “Here, we lock them inside with no programs or chance to fix them and put them out on our streets with probation and parole and take away all the tools probation and parole can actually have to community manage these guys.”

Mayor Keith Hobbs made an appearance at the rally and pledged to advocate for improvements to the system.

He recommended the nearly 100-year-old district jail to be dismantled and for supportive programs to be implemented in a modern facility.

“The City of Thunder Bay is looking at root causes of crime and there are insufficient programs in the jails to address those root causes,” Hobbs said.

“I think the province should get in line with the city and look at those root causes and maybe we won’t have the overcrowding in the jails.”


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captain says:
This is an an act of pure desperation. Two NDP candidates assist a union leadership in demonstrating against the government a full six months before their contract is even up. The union has no idea if the same people will be in charge of the gov't but are protesting because they are receiving signals.

It seems the party of the people will stoop to anything to try to get elected.

It is very interesting to me that this article appears on the same day another large union UNIFOR, comes out publicly for the Liberals. One of the main reasons is an admission by the local NDP candidates that their leader did not consult with them at all about the party platform for this election.

We complain about Toronto dictating to the North. Well there it is, right from the horses mouth.

The NDP is an appropriate title for these guys

"No definite position"!!

They will say anything you want to hear.

They are really a joke. I am surprised that you included their picture this close to the election.
6/10/2014 6:24:54 PM
hotchoc says:
It is interesting that most of the labour movement is abandoning the NDP because of their lack of policies, an unnecessary election and the defeat of a budget that should have been supported. They realize that the NDP leader took a risk and for that, it is possible Mr. Hudak could win.

The NDP have no chance to form government. They will be lucky to keep the seats they have. It is surprising that OPSEU would do this just before the election.

If Mr. Hudak were to win, I can almost guarantee OPSEU leaders that there will be a reason to strike come December.

Their reasons for this action are highly questionable. Their membership should be asking questions. "they are receiving strong signal". If I had to guess, I would think the leadership is receiving those signals from outer space. That seems to be where this plan was formulated.
6/10/2014 5:34:10 PM
Dockboy says:
The government is playing Russian roulette with the lives of of our corrections officers and the inmates of these jails. They will continue this way until the inevitable happens. Then and only then will you see some small changes. Disgusting!
6/10/2014 3:22:39 PM
hockeyday says:
Is OPSEU losing its mind? First OPSEU and Smokey tell Horwarth to ignore a great budget and force an election that NDP has no chance to win. Then when its a neck and neck race between Liberals and Slash and burn conservatives, they attack Wynn? Then 3 days before the most important election in Ontario in decades that will determine the future of public services in this province, OPSEU sets up a bunch of information pickets 6 months before their contract expires when there isn't even a government in place to protest. I am really confused with OPSEU and Smokey's strategy over the last month.
6/9/2014 11:54:22 PM
S Duncan says:
Horwath only didn't support the budget so they could stall the investigations and inquirys into the liberals theft and stolen tax dollars in their multiple scandals.

Don't worry, the NDP and libs are in cahoots. If you don't believe me, watch what happens if the PCs get a minority gov.

the libs and ndp will form a coalition gov in order to protect wynnie and her fellow criminals.

that's what we've had already anyway, it was a coalition with a puppet show going on to keep the feeble minded people like the union clowns entertained.

all while the middle class gets robbed on energy costs, hst, and scandal after scandal.

its typical liberal nonsense, Martin did it, Chretien did it, PET did it, and the McGuinty/wynnie govs did it the worst.

the only vote that will save Ontario is a PC vote.
6/10/2014 5:22:43 PM
Holmstrom says:
We need our jails to work better, and to support our correctional staff.
6/9/2014 4:53:39 PM
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