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Union issues continue

It’s another week gone, another issue of The Oshawa Express and another editorial about bad relations between an employer and the union representing its workers.

This time, the Durham Regional Police Association has come out with a report that highlights a serious lack of confidence in DRPS Chief Paul Martin, along with a lack of satisfaction in the work of the Police Services Board. There is also mention of favouritism among senior managers and an attitude that it’s not how hard you work, but it’s who you know that gets you promoted.

However, most troubling of results from the DRPA commissioned survey is the fact that 70 per cent of DRPA members who responded said they had experienced at least one instance of bullying or harassment in the past three years. Of that number, the survey notes only about 20 per cent filed a complaint.

And now, similar to the Oshawa Professional Fire Fighters Association, who had been warning senior management about issues in the downtown for years before commissioning a report that outlined the fatal risk that exists in the city centre earlier this year, the DRPA has told The Express that members have been sharing this message with DRPS management for years.

What is this habit of senior management in emergency services refusing to listen to their workers?

It’s an incredibly dangerous situation for a police officer, who is already stressed out on the job, dealing with potentially life-threatening situations on a daily basis, to have to worry about coming to work and being harassed or bullied. It not only puts their lives at risk, but the lives of the people of Oshawa and Durham they are meant to protect.

It’s been labelled a “toxic environment” by the union president, and while Chief Martin has taken the right step in agreeing to meet with the union to discuss their concerns (one step ahead of the Oshawa Fire Service) he needs to ensure that he finds the antidote to this toxin before it creeps into our community, and someone gets hurt.

These union issues are perhaps indicative of a larger issue of senior managers in the public sector being out of touch with their employees, but if the recent experiences of the DRPA and OPFFA unions show us anything, it’s clear that something needs to change, and fast.

Politicians should also take note, these unions have a strong voting base, and if action isn’t taken, it could mean a lot more than the leaves on the trees will be changing come the fall.