Our Member's Are The Union. Further information about our local can be found at: www.opseu217.com or at: www.opseu.org
Monday, October 31, 2005
Sunday, October 30, 2005
OPSEU LOCAL 217 OCTOBER NEWSLETTER
So much for fair competition!
Once again fall is here and unfortunately for our seasonal brothers and sisters, layoffs. I certainly hope that all of the contractors in the Park leave before our members do. I believe that contractors should only be used when the Niagara Parks could not possibly perform the work with our own equipment and workers. Sadly this is not the belief of the decision makers in upper management. Lately it seems that we must continually compete with these outside companies. Sometimes it is very difficult to do because the playing field is not very level..
We have a Health and Safety Department and trained worker reps that help to ensure that all relevant safety legislation and policies are followed(something I have noticed is decidedly lacking in some of the contractors that have been observed working in the Park.)It is the management's responsibility to ensure contractors are abiding by all Park policies and relevant legislation but it appears that they seem unable or unwilling to do this despite the often 4 to 5 levels of management currently in place. When senior management was asked about verifying the enforcement of these issues with the contractors we were told it was the on-site manager's responsibility. You know, the little guys that are already juggling all the hundreds of other tasks that have been downloaded from upper management over the past
few years. (Can you say "Pass the Buck"...)
Contractors working in the Park are still perceived as representatives of the Park. I dont see Montgomery or Stevensville workers sitting in on our customer service training courses as a few of our visitors may have found out when they approached a 'worker' whose main concern is getting in and out as quickly as possible and collecting their minimum wage.
For the contractor, the Parks is a job: get in, get paid and move on to the next place. I don't feel there is the same pride in ownership that you see in some of our best employees. Workers at the NPC, if they haven't been totally beaten down, truly care for the Parks, how it looks and how our visitors are treated. We want the job done right.
Remember all the sodding that was done this spring by outside contractors? The work that our people used to do Management said that it was cheaper to have contractors do the whole job., paths and1 sodding. I wonder if they counted all the costs incurred by our people following behind the contractors^ locating and uncovering all of the sewer drains, electrical and irrigation heads that were blindly sodded over in the contractors haste to finish their job?...So much for fair competition...
We recently attended a Broader Public Service (BPS) Conference. Myself, lan 'angry man' Mather, Shelley Reed and Carol Penner represented our local at this meeting. We learned a lot and found it helpful to hear how other sectors deal with difficult employers. We met a lot of OPSEU activists and found they had a lot of great ideas.
One interesting point that we learned had to do with member's rights during a lockout or legal work stoppage. 1 felt it was important to pass on to our members. To collect strike pay and get your benefits covered, you must be a signed-up member in good standing. We have more than 150 workers that pay Union dues but have not signed a Union card. If you don't have a Union Card, please contact your steward or executive member to sign up as quickly as possible.. It was also interesting to note that we were told that seasonal workers would qualify to recieve Union Benefits in the event of a legal work stoppage.
On a final note; have you ever noticed that only some excluded positions are posted. Sometimes you hear about them at work or in the newspaper want ads and you can actually apply for them. Other times they just magically appear, filled with a person of management's choosing, qualified or not. Again...so much for fair competition...
Remember Knowledge is power! See you at the November General Membership meeting.
ATTENTION ALL SEASONALS
be used to rate your job and if it is not complete you run the risk of losing out on potential points which may affect your wage rate.
At the meeting we also hope to co-ordinate and group similar jobs and find a spokesperson to represent jobs with a large number of workers so we can approach this very big job organized and prepared. It will be the same type of meeting that was held two seasons ago at the Victoria Park Restaurant with the previous J JE Committee when we first started working on the seasonal JJE. Since then, management has seen fit to change some of the job descriptions from what they
were previously. That is why it feels like we are going back to the drawing board (we are)
I hope to see a great turnout of seasonals November 10th
Also, just a reminder, it's layoff season, so all you seasonals that exercised your right to seniority and asked for extra work and/or early recall must be vigilant. The Parks will not admit if they make a mistake. You know your job and seniority better than anyone, so it's up to you to make sure that the Parks toes the line. You have a contract...enforce it!
The exchange of thoughts, messages, or information
Back in the spring, the NPC held three communication seminars, one of which was with a group of selected Union employees and managers of all levels. The other two were held with a group of selected local citizens (How these people were selected has not been discussed.)
These meetings came about, in part, as a result of the findings put together by the Burke Group. The Burke Group was hired by the Parks to put a survey together and have it sent to 300 random (random?) employees.
Poor communication was one of the main concerns brought up by the survey and thus the reason for the communications seminars.
The expected end result of the communication seminar was to convey a sense that management and employees would come closer together with open conversation.
Well it is now almost November and has much changed, I wonder? Not long ago, during a meeting with senior management, some questions were raised about excluded positions. The response from management was: 'The matter is awaiting review at the Grievance Settlement Board (GSB) and we do not want to discuss this matter. During Mediation at the GSB the mediator presented an opportunity to dicuss the matter as a group. Management said: 'Wo"
I've had to deal with several situations this season that could have easily been avoided with some basic conversation
As usual, most of the disagreements were brought to my attention because the end result would have meant that the Park would have to spend money on its workers.
It is truly unfortunate that the person responsible for passing on the results of the survey and the presenter and promoter of "better Communication" is rarely seen in the Park which makes it quite impossiblle to communicate with us, his staff.
Things that make you go Hmmm..
I must say, of all the things in the newsletter, I seem to get the most feedback from this feature. Most of the workers that I hear from have a good chuckle and look forward to the next issue, as for the management, I have not heard any comments. (I am still with the Parks and haven't mysteriously disappeared, so take It as a positive sign) I am always on the lookout for more f ammo for my editorials and some people have gladly put a little bug in my ear to wonder about some of the things that our workers have seen and the rumours that swirl around the water coolers everywhere.
Take politics, it's easy to see why people's opinion of some politicians are less than stellar. Every day we read in the paper about cronyism and kickbacks. People in power that abuse their privilages. I guess everyone in a position of power should be entitled to their entitlements, as one fine speaker demanded. It just bums the butt of the average working Joe that these entitlements are gained out of the pockets and on the backs of the working class. Its really easy to spend someone else's money, especially when there seems to be no accountability.
I guess the Parks is no different from any other government beaurocracy. it is just a miniaturized version of the government. Sort of like Mini-Me to Austin Power's Dr.Evil. (Oh My! Was that my outside voice?)
Sometimes the questions just beg to be asked, if only to raise awareness that we are not idiots and we do see what goes on around us (perhaps more than some management would like to think).Especially since we actually do the work in the Parks.
One questions the need to change contractors for the Parks Cellular phone system, everyone gets issued a phone and a number and the next thing you know all the phones are trashed and new phones purchased and all the numbers changed. Obviously there must have been a great savings in cost to prompt such a quick change in cellular providers... much more than the cost to change everything over.,.! hope..why else change providers? Hmmm...
Ever wonder how the Parks determines which wines they carry and flog as their premiere wines? I do. There are so many great Canadian and local award winning wineries to choose from. Is price a consideration? Or perhaps the number of awards certain
wineries receive for their product? It would be interesting tc find out!
I'd also like to find out how the businesses in 'shanty-town' at the Maid of the Mist plaza were determined. Was some sort of focus group consulted on the what our visitors would like to see? How did they decide that a tattoo parlour and glass blower was the way to go? How did they choose which tattoo business? I'm sure that there's more than one. Hmmmm.,
Even if we are not Rhodes Scholars, most of us can add two and two and get something we perceive as four. Maybe the powers that be will think of that when they say that they just can't understand why employee morale sucks.
Isn't it amazing that you often see the city of Niagara Falls and the Region tendering out contract work in a fair and open manner. Everyone gets a chance to apply. With all the building and contracting out in the Parks lately, when was the last time that anyone saw any Parks work publicly tendered. I guess no-one can compete with the chosen few, so why bother even advertising, (of course, how would you know if you could get a better deal, if no-one else knows about the job).
Is it true that the public at one point was able to book private, non-Park-related entertainment through a Park paid for number? Would this be on Park-paid time as well?? Hmmmmm...
The Daily Bread Food Bank/CALM
A report released by the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto has found that more than one third of food bank clients are the working poor.
The report, Who's Hungry? surveyed more than 1,620 people at 54 food banks in the greater Toronto Area.The results showed that while 45 per cent of the employed food bank clients were earning more than $ 10 an hour, they were un able to get more than 25 hours of work a week. The average total monthly income of working people using food banks is $1,246— just under $15,000 a year—which is well below the poverty line in this urban area.
Legion branch 479 at 7 pm
To discuss Job Descriptions
determination of Job Representatives
7pm Legion Branch 479
Spring Street, Niagara Falls
Budget and updates
Our Motto (Besides No Bull!)
The No Bulletin is published and mailed to all members. The No Bulletin is your newsletter. If you have any related articles, jokes or cartoons, please give them to:
Marie Stokes (Editor)
at 6548 Dunn St NFO L2G-2RL
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BILL 123 TO INCLUDE PARKS COMMISSION
PARKS COMMISSION SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN NEW TRANSPARENCY BILL: CRAITOR
Accountability a must, says MPP
BY DOUG DRAPER THIS WEEK
Craitor told Niagara this Week he hopes to amend the bill to include such bodies as the Niagara Parks Commission and Community Care Access Centre
Craitor co-sponsored the bill, spearheaded by Sarnia Liberal MPP Caroline DiCocco, in the wake of concerns expressed by many of his local constituents last year that the Niagara Parks Commission, a provincial body entrusted with protecting large tracts of lands along the
Those concerns reached a crescendo a year ago last spring and summer when the commission announced plans to build a $23-million gondola ride, in which 40 cars suspended on cables would propel tourists from the brink of the
Craitor acknowledged in an interview earlier thismonththatBilll23, also known as a 'transparency in public matters bill,' does nothing, as it is now written, to open the doors to board meetings held by the parks commission or by CCAC Niagara — another provincial body that can make critical decisions about the deployment of home nursing services to the sick and elderly without sharing any details with the public.
Unless bodies such as the parks commission, CCAC Niagara and hydro boards are covered by a bill that aims for more public accountability, then the bill is a "sham," charged Nancy Eidt, a Niagara Falls resident and member of Fair Share, anad hoc citizens group fighting for more transparency .The bill "may be more detrimental than helpful," said Eidt, if it specifically excludes some public bodies from being more open, because those bodies will now be able to use the bill as another reason for closing their doors.
At a provincial hearing on the bill in Toronto last month, Niagara Falls resident Bernadette Secco charged that the transparency bill has a "misleading title" because "it will not be all inclusive" in terms of what public bodies have to open their doors to scrutiny.
Secco went on to add that "the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is a major player in
Craitor said he hopes to introduce amendments to the bill that will include the parks commission, CCAC Niagara and its 41 affiliates across the province, and other public bodies before the end of this year.