Ontario Public Service Employees Union
|Full name||Ontario Public Service Employees Union|
|Head union||Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president|
|Office location||Toronto, Ontario|
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is a trade union that represents over 130,000 members employed in the broader public service of the province of Ontario, Canada. The current president is Warren (Smokey) Thomas, who was elected president for the first time in 2007. Prior to Thomas, OPSEU was headed by Leah Casselman. Casselman was the President of OPSEU for 12 years and was re-elected five times.
OPSEU represents workers in more than 500 bargaining units in the following areas:
- Employees of the provincial government
- Academic and support staff working for Ontario's Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology
- Simcoe County District School Board
- Moosonee District Area School Board
- Moosonee Roman Catholic Separate School Board
- Peel District School Board
- Rainbow District School Board
- Trent University, Nipissing University, Ryerson University
- Ambulance services, community health care, hospital professionals, health care/support and long term care facilities, mental health workers
- Canadian Blood Services staff
- Developmental services, Children's Aid Societies, child and family services, childcare, community agencies, and child treatment centres workers
- Correctional services (provincially operated jails and prisons)
- Legal aid clinics
- 21 different municipality groups across the province
- Casinos and racetracks
- Art Gallery of Ontario
- Royal Ontario Museum
- Toronto Community Housing Corporation
- Ontario Dairy Herd Improvement Corporation
- Niagara Parks Commission
- Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
- Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal
- Liquor Control Board of Ontario
- Ontario College of Art and Design non-faculty staff.
OPSEU has 20 offices in cities across Ontario. Its head office is located in Toronto.
In October 2008, OPSEU Pension Trust was named one of "Canada's Top 100 Employers" by Mediacorp Canada Inc., and was featured in Maclean's newsmagazine. Later that month, OPSEU was also named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers, which was announced by the Toronto Star newspaper.
Ontario Public Service Strike History
The First Strike: 1996
In 1993, Ontario's first NDP government altered the legislation governing Ontario Public Service employees to allow them to strike. In 1996, Ontario Public Service employees struck legally (Correctional Officers struck illegally in 1979) for the first time in their history. The strike was deeply political; OPSEU rallied against the Mike Harris government's proposed job cuts. The tension between the Government and OPSEU culminated on March 18, 1996 in a confrontation between the OPP and OPSEU strikers at Queen's Park in Toronto. Ontario Provincial Police riot control officers were called in to escort members of parliament who were being prevented from entering the legislature. MPPs were pelted with rocks and paper cups when they tried to cross the line. The confrontation escalated when police began to push through the line of protesters and violence erupted. At least half a dozen protesters were injured.
The Second Strike: 2002
The second strike between OPSEU and the provincial government lasted 54 days (March 13 to May 5) in 2002. Again, tensions between managers and the union were strong. Although there was no bloody confrontation between the union and the government during this strike, there was a strong division between union members and management.