Union president says he is “not alarmed”
Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) executives unanimously voted to place Ryerson University Local 596 under immediate trusteeship earlier this month, according to documents obtained by the Ryersonian.
The decision came after a number of concerns brought forward by members of the union which, “met the threshold of ‘unconstitutional conduct’” outlined in the the OPSEU Constitution, according to a letter addressed to Local 596 membership, written by Toronto region vice-president Edie Strachan.
“This isn’t one of those cases where the local leadership bought a house in the Bahamas…This is just a local that needs some help,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas who is the president of OPSEU.
Local 596 represents approximately 2,100 Ryerson University staff members and student research assistants. All stewards and local executive committee members were immediately suspended from office following the trusteeship, with good-standing members having the option to run for office again once elections commence.
The Ryersonian contacted Local 596 membership for comment, but they did not respond for comment in time for publication.
Strachan was appointed as trustee until early next month, according to the documents.
“We have internal legal counsel that looks everything all over, and we determined that the best course of action was to place this local into trusteeship, help them get reoriented, rebuild and get back on their feet and get going again,” said Thomas.
As part of the trusteeship, the local is undergoing a review, which includes a financial audit to ensure that it is in compliance in regards to expenditures, according to the letter.
“I’m quite confident that the audit will be all clear, so they’ll start with a clean set of books. They’ll start with a fresh start,” said Thomas.
He said he is not aware of any financial mismanagement or police involvement in the investigation and aniticaptes the trusteeship to last for no more than a few months.
“It’s always been a really high functioning local…they just needed some help from the central union to sort some things out and get on their feet again and get going. Nobody’s going to jail. Nobody has stolen money, that I’m aware of –– none of that kind of stuff,” said Thomas.
Thomas said he recently received a handful of emails from union membership saying they were thankful for “getting back on track” since the trusteeship has been underway.