No Severance, No Sympathy

Both the Amherstburg Police Services Board and the Amherstburg Police Association agreed to the ‘poison pill’ takeover clause in the collective agreement. Although it initially referred to the OPP, the parties agreed to expand the clause to include contracting policing to ‘another police service, other than the Ontario Provincial Police’ (emphasis added).

am800 reported former officer Scott Riddell was disappointed and frustrated by the town holding payments.

“Treated very poorly through the whole process by certain members of the administration and now this, right,” says Riddell.  “We’re talking about wages.  This ain’t even about the severance.” He and others have even reached out to the Ministry of Labour looking for answers when it comes to pay that’s owed to them.

I have no sympathy.

Firstly, severance is commonly paid for loss of employment not simply for rejecting an offer of employment. Secondly, being treated very poorly, in my opinion, was when: a decision was made to withhold an officer’s benefits, contrary to law and the contract at zero cost; an officer was targeted and discriminated against for years; an officer was denied promotions and trainings; officers surreptitiously observed and reported on an officer’s family members’ activities.

The drama continued yesterday when am800 reported, “It’s very disheartening and disrespectful in my opinion we’re being treated this way,” says McCurdy.

It’s incredulous the lengths some will go to when they are personally affected and frustrated. I can imagine the ramifications if a particular officer voiced an opinion about an elected official or administration in the press.

A couple of weeks without pay for what amounts to retirement? Give me a break.

OPP Payout Clause Remains In Amherstburg Police Contract

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Ron Giofu, River Town Times, reports that Amherstburg police, APSB agree on two-year contract.

Whether or not negotiations were underway has been written about multiple times, including referencing an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal Decision regarding Sgt. Jim Saxon’s discrimination because of age complaint.

The Board requested the application be dismissed, suggesting the matter was appropriately dealt with at Conciliation and alternatively, requested it be deferred, pending the 2015 collective agreement negotiations, although no documentation was submitted indicating negotiations were ongoing. An Interim Decision was issued on June 23, 2014 by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal; “the Board’s requests to dismiss or defer the Application are denied.”

The police services board negotiates the contract and, since council has opted to have a five member board, typically for the size of a municipality with a population of 25,000 and more, two members of council are also members of the board: in this case, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Councillor Jason Lavigne. Otherwise, for a municipality the size of Amherstburg, a three member board would suffice and there would be one council rep on the board, pursuant to the Police Services Act.

Readers of the burg watch were concerned enough to have submitted three questions to candidates regarding the OPP poison pill clause during the 2014 municipal election campaign. Rightfully so.

The OPP provides policing services to the majority of the province’s municipalities, 324, that enjoy savings of approximately $1 million dollars annually; that equals about $17 million dollars in savings since amalgamation that, according to a CBC News report in May 2015, didn’t help smaller communitiesThe study finds significant increases in property taxes, compensation for municipal employees, and long term debt between 2000 and 2012; Amherstburg’s debt was another hot topic during the election campaign.

According to the RTT article, “While there still would be a $1 million payout to officers if town council were to agree to switch to OPP, DiCarlo said that would be made up in infrastructure costs. Wages and benefits would still likely remain at roughly the same level but the savings for the town would be in infrastructure costs of about $1 million per year.”

I would suggest that the $1 million dollar savings would not be in infrastructure, but rather wages and benefits as a result of not having an unnecessary top heavy hierarchical policing structure.

As previously noted, the 2012 Annual Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario included a Cost Comparison of Municipal Police Services, 2011; the estimated per capita cost of police services for a population between 15,000 and 49,999 was:

  • Municipal Police Service $284.00
  • OPP – with contract $150.00
  • OPP – no contract $131.00

Members of the board and the police association should recognize that it is in the community’s and ratepayers’ best interests for policing options to provide for optimal cost savings and, in my opinion, should not be limited based on a self serving clause in a collective agreement.

Discriminatory Language In Amherstburg Police Service Contract

Commentary by Linda Saxon

The Amherstburg Police Services Board and the Amherstburg Police Association negotiated contracts that include retirement at age 60, contrary to the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, advised all Chiefs of Police on January 15, 2007 of the proclamation of the Ending Mandatory Retirement Statute Act.

On March 5, 2012, Chief Tim Berthiaume advised then-Sgt. Saxon that he had no benefits since he just turned 60, that the town hall staff advised him. The town switched from Great West Life to Sun Life in February 2012 to save an approximate $52,000.00 annually. The town hall staff handles payroll/benefits for the police service and AON Hewitt, a benefits management company, was under contract as the named broker of record for the town.

Health Benefits cease at 60 in the collective agreement, but the Board arbitrarily amended it by deleting the age 60 reference in that section.

Chief Berthiaume provided the Board with 2012 proposed rate increases for discussion of life, AD&D, short and long term disability coverage. Life insurance was secured to age 65; there is no reference to age in the collective agreement with respect to that benefit.

The Association and Board never met to discuss this matter; they ‘negotiated’ through correspondence and no record of a formal grievance was disclosed. The Board’s position was that the appropriate time for discussion would be during the 2015 contract negotiations.

An unsuccessful Conciliation Hearing was held on December 5, 2012.

The Association did not pursue Arbitration; Saxon was told it was a human rights matter, although Arbitrators can interpret and apply Human Rights legislation and there is no fee for a Rights Arbitrator.

The Association had previously been involved in two Interest Arbitrations; in 1990 when it obtained historical parity with Windsor Police (unlike Windsor, retention pay has not been negotiated in Amherstburg) and in 2008 for a 2.5% rate increase for one officer’s position.

Saxon filed a Human Rights Tribunal Application; the Association hired a lawyer to defend its position while the Board relied on the town lawyer. The Board requested dismissal, suggesting the matter was appropriately dealt with at Conciliation and alternatively, requested deferral, pending the 2015 collective agreement negotiations. No documentation was filed indicating negotiations were ongoing. An Interim Decision was issued on June 23, 2014 by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal; “the Board’s requests to dismiss or defer the Application are denied.”

In January 2014, Chief Tim Berthiaume inquired about rates for long term disability and referenced the 2015 collective agreement. Despite a 0% rate increase to extend short and long term disability benefits for officers above age 60, no change was made.

A new request has been submitted to the Board for the cost to the taxpayer to defend itself against the age discrimination complaint because, as posted previously, Amherstburg Police Services Board Ignored Question About Legal Fees.

Shame on the Board and the Association for not changing the collective agreement to reflect legislative changes to mandatory retirement and the human rights code regarding age, but negotiating the OPP takeover clause from 1998 to the current collective agreement and negotiating protection from discrimination because of Association membership.

Human Rights Tribunal Ontario Hearing Reminder

A countdown calendar has been added to the right sidebar regarding the hearing of an Application by James Saxon v. Amherstburg Police Service Board and Amherstburg Police Association and an allegation of discrimination because of age.

The hearing is open to the public and it would be a good opportunity to see taxpayer dollars at work.

As mentioned in a previous post, the Tribunal denied the Amherstburg Police Services Board’s request to dismiss or defer the Application. The Board requested that the Tribunal defer consideration of the Application pending the outcome of collective bargaining between it and the union representing the applicant.

The Tribunal decided, “In my view, deferral is not appropriate in this case since there are no parallel proceedings between the parties. In my view, the fact that the Board and the union representing the applicant will commence their next round of bargaining sometime in 2014 is not a reason to defer consideration of this Application. The Application concerns the failure to pay disability benefits after the applicant turned 60 years old. There is no parallel proceeding in this case that is underway that would cause the Tribunal to defer consideration of the Application.”

Police Contract Negotiations ARE Underway

Two inquiries to Shawn McCurdy, President, Amherstburg Police Association have been unanswered, but a River Town Times article states, McCurdy said he couldn’t get into details with regards to details of the negotiations but indicated that if the “poison pill” clause were to come up, the association would be willing to discuss it.

The “poison pill” clause, which gives veteran officers a payout should Amherstburg switch to OPP policing, is something that McCurdy said the association is “more than willing to look at” if the board wishes to discuss it. He noted it was instituted in 1998 when Amherstburg police had better pay and pensions than that of OPP but he added “things have come full circle” where OPP makes more money now and pensions are comparable.

Amherstburg Police Association Silent On Police Contract

It has been one week since Shawn McCurdy, President, Amherstburg Police Association, was advised of this blog, the readers’ questions pertaining to the OPP clause of the police contract and Berthiaume’s presentation to the Amherstburg Citizens for Responsible Government (ACRG). McCurdy was asked to comment on the Association’s position regarding the clause; i.e. maintain, remove?

Human Rights Tribunal Hearing Date Set

A public hearing will be held on February 19 and 20, 2015 at Windsor City Hall to decide an Application by James Saxon v. Amherstburg Police Service Board and Amherstburg Police Association regarding an allegation of discrimination because of age.

The Amherstburg Police Service Board requested that the Tribunal dismiss the Application on the basis that a conciliation under the Police Service Act has appropriately dealt with the Application. Alternatively, the Board requested that the Tribunal defer consideration of the Application pending the outcome of collective bargaining between it and the union representing the applicant.

In a June 23, 2014 Interim Decision by the HRTO, the Board’s requests to dismiss or defer the Application were denied.