Monthly Archives: January 2012

Privatized Public Services have become a “cash cow” for the select few

TORONTO OPSEU website
7 Jan 2012

The government takeover of ORNGE air ambulance should serve as warning to taxpayers that the privatization of public services only succeeds in harming services and making a select few executives millionaires with public money, says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU, said the government needs to learn from their mistakes and immediately halt any plans to privatize government-run services such as ServiceOntario.

“How many spending scandals must this government deal with before they learn that privatizing public services harms the public?” asked Thomas. “First there was eHealth, now ORNGE. The only thing these ventures accomplished was to create a cash cow for a few corporate executives, who lined their pockets with millions in taxpayers’ money.”

Roxanne Barnes, elected chair of Ontario’s 40,000 direct government employees, says that government plans to privatize the province’s ServiceOntario locations will only lead to the same problems with out-of-control spending and service reductions.

“When people pay their taxes, they expect services to be efficient, well-run and accountable with their money,” Barnes said. “What gets proven over and over is that when the government gives up responsibility for delivering services, it’s the taxpayers who pay more in the long run.”

Thomas says that the Ontario government needs to finally learn from their mistakes and stop letting private operators profit from services and public money.

“Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” Thomas said. “We need sound thinking from this government and for them to stop bowing to corporate pressure to turn public services into get-rich schemes. The only way to be accountable for services to have them run by accountable, elected officials and delivered by professional public-sector workers. The Premier’s plans for more privatization will just create more messes that he has to go back and clean up.”

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OPSEU proposes a dues increase

The OPSEU Executive Board is proposing a temporary dues levy that will bring the current dues level from 1.375 per cent to 1.5 per cent, effective May 1st, 2012.  This matter will be voted on by the delegates to the 2012 Convention.

As set out in the resolution, the continuation of the levy will be reviewed at the 2014 Convention.

 This measure will generate approximately $5,370,000 in revenue, which is needed to continue to deliver high quality services to you. Building the strike fund continues to be a priority for this union as does providing a first defense for your rights and entitlements through campaigns and grievances.

We can all see the specific threats that lie ahead. The most immediate is the 2012 provincial budget, shaped by the secretive Drummond Commission. Challenging the commission recommendations and these provincial government cuts is job one!

That is why this levy is part of the Board’s balanced approach to ensure that OPSEU remains Ontario’s leading union with a strong voice, wherever we represent members: at the bargaining table; in legal proceedings; when strikes occur; when we campaign; as we fight for human rights; when we assist members with pension and benefit problems; or as we provide accessible services across the province through OPSEU regional offices and membership centres.

 

Even with the proposed increase, the Executive Board worked diligently to shape that budget by limiting many budget lines and reducing others. To remain strong, the Board weighed the following key areas:

 

§     ensuring the continued steady growth of the Strike Fund

§     ensuring stable funding for grievance arbitration and organizing

§     ensuring we have an active union with adequate funding for committees, locals, membership education and other member focused programs

§     having the capacity to fight employers  through negotiations and campaigns, given the number of units soon at the bargaining table

 

§     staying on top of technology and the evolution of social media

§     avoiding deep cuts to current programs

§     avoiding staff lay-offs

§     reducing our debt levels

While there are always choices to be made when we budget, your Board made considered choices when proposing the attached budget and levy to you. Unlike Government, the Board is committed to looking beyond program cuts to address the current financial climate.  We have a responsibility to look at all sides of our finances, including ensuring that our revenues are up-to-date, fair and competitive.

The Constitution requires that for approval any levy, as proposed in this budget, be supported by a two-third majority of delegates in attendance at Convention. This early notice provides an opportunity for local discussion and consideration. Discussion within your Local can provide guidance to delegates on how they should address this important decision at Convention.

On behalf of the Board, as the First Vice President/Treasurer, I am recommending that you support this proposal which allows us to continue to fight, build and grow!

In solidarity,

Eduardo Almeida                                                                 Warren (Smokey) Thomas

First Vice President/Treasurer                                           President

 Participate in the OPSEU Local 302 Poll.  The Delegates to the OPSEU Convention want to know your opinion.