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Canada: MTC guards vote for union.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 19, 2002
Union wins vote to represent correctional officers at private superjail

PENETANGUISHENE - Correctional officers at Canada’s first privatized adult correctional facility have voted overwhelmingly in favour in becoming unionized at a vote held here yesterday.

Correctional officers at the Central North Correctional Centre, a 1,200-bed facility operated by the American-based Management and Training Corporation (MTC), will now be represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union OPSEU). OPSEU currently represents the 5,000 correctional officers working in publicly run jails across the province.

Dan Marshall, OPSEU organizer, said that today’s vote is the first step in addressing problems with working conditions inside the facility.

"Workers at the jail approached OPSEU last year asking for help," Marshall said. "Staff were extremely unhappy and concerned with working conditions and staff safety issues inside the facility. We will now be able to begin to address these problems through a structured collective bargaining process."

Sid Brown, a correctional officer at the jail and one of the key workers supporting the union organizing drive, said that today is a historical day for staff at the jail.

"For almost a year, we have tried to address with the employer issues such as staffing levels and workload, to no avail," Brown said. "Our people do an excellent job, but the pressures are enormous. Now we can work to solve these problems as a united group, with the resources of a union who is very familiar with the work we do."

Marshall said that a date has not been set for when the union will begin the collective bargaining process with MTC.

"Members need to elect their local representatives and begin a demand setting process first," Marshall said. "As soon as the members are ready, we will sit down with MTC to bargain a first contract."

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