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Canada: MTC guards sign contract.
Guards sign one-year deal with super jail
Janis Leering: The Mirror

Jail guards in Penetanguishene don't have to worry about going on strike now, after signing their first union contract.

Ninety-three per cent of the 204 correctional officers showed up last Thursday to vote on a union deal, which they accepted.
"Although the deal fell slightly short of parity with correctional officers in the Ontario Public Service, it is a vast improvement over what we had," said Sean Wilson, a correctional officer and bargaining team member for OPSEU local 269.

"All of our major issues were addressed, including wages, vacations, shift premiums and pregnancy/parental leave top-up."

The offer by Management and Training Corporation Canada, the company running the jail, includes equal wages with correctional officers at public facilities as of Nov. 15, 2004, very similar vacation time, and shift premium allowances.

Another bonus for correctional officers at the jail is they now have access to a grievance procedure, and methods to negotiate labour-relations issues. The new contract is retroactive to January, and it expires at the end of this year, which means talks will begin again in 2005.

"All along, our members told us what was important to them. We couldn't have reached this agreement without their unwavering support. This contract is a giant step in gaining recognition and respect for the work we do," Wilson said.

Doug Thomson, facility administrator at the Central North Correctional Centre, said he was pleased with the negotiation process.

"We believe this first collective agreement continues to recognize the value of our bargaining unit employees, and their contribution to the safety and security of the community, inmates and general public," said Thomson.

He said both parties treated each other professionally, and worked hard to come up with a deal, avoiding a strike.

Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop continues to praise the private jail, and said this union deal is another example of how the privatized system is working.

"(The jail) is a first for Canada, and a shining example of how a large-scale public/private sector partnership can work to the benefit of its employees, and the community," said Dunlop, who is the PC Critic for Community Safety and Correctional Services.

He said the Central North Correctional Centre is a valued corporate citizen that has contributed to the local economy since day one.

"I wish the employees well as they continue their fine and difficult work under their first contract."

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