Carleton University accused of unfair labour practices

Union buttons, stickers banned from staff uniforms
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 02/04/2014

Carleton University in Ottawa was slapped with an unfair labour practice complaint after it banned union paraphernalia from its uniforms.

On Feb. 4, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which represents campus safety workers, took its case to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, alleging the school’s action were anti-union.

According to the university, union buttons and stickers do not conform to uniform policy, and ordered them removed from all clothing.

“I do not believe for a minute that Carleton University is acting out of concern about their uniform policy. This employer is attempting to undermine contract negotiations,” said Warren “Smokey” Thomas, president of OPSEU.

Tensions between the union and university administration came to a boiling point after a conciliation officer had to be called in to assist with contract negotiations.

“I have been told to remove my union button. Yet my employer has never had a problem with me wearing a pin or ribbon before,” said Brent Gobeo, vice-president of the local chapter and chair of OPSEU’s bargaining team at Carleton. “Now the employer is being openly anti-union. This is not the best way to arrive at a collective agreement with your staff.”

Of particular concern is understaffing, Gobeo said, adding a lack of investment in frontline staff coupled with university growth has heightened the need for a safer campus.

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