The union representing corrections officers across Ontario and negotiators for the Liberal government have not yet reached a contract agreement.
Corrections officers are in a strike position after their contract ran out at midnight December 31. OPSEU Local 135 President Randy Simpraga says after giving the union a strong strike mandate, members could walk off the job, or be locked out by the government at any time.
After making concession in the last contract, Simpraga says four years later, the union isn't willing to make any more. "Now the Liberal government has come back to us with more zeros and further concessions," he says. "It's no secret through the mismanagement of our public funds throughout Ontario by this government, has cost us billions of dollars. Now they want to recoup some of that off the backs of hard-working men and women, and we can't stand for that."
The union also wants the government to declare its members essential workers, removing their right to strike.
If corrections officers hit the picket line or are locked out, Simpraga says managers from across the province will have to take over operations at provincial jails, including at Windsor's Southwest Detention Centre. "Whether it be in the Ministry of Finance or the Ministry of Health (and Long-Term Care), you will see managers come from those institutions and into correctional facilities which obviously isn't ideal for anybody."