Some Ontario NDP MPPs are apparently finding it trying to work with staff represented by the big unions that typically back the party. The party terminated one employee and suspended the pay of two others ahead of an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal hearing concerning allegations of workplace misconduct filed against MPPs Paul Miller and Monique Taylor.
COPE Ontario, the union representing NDP staffers is calling out the labour-friendly provincial party for failing to respect established labour dispute processes by terminating and suspending the employees ahead of scheduled hearings. “This is an all-too-typical employer attack on workers’ ability to use the grievance process to stop (Employment Standards Act), labour law, and Human Rights violations. It’s unacceptable from any employer, but it’s appalling from the NDP,” said COPE Ontario director Patty Clancy.
Allegations of bullying, harassment and unpaid work
The recent terminations stem from human rights complaints filed by three staffers earlier this year. Two constituency office staff of Monique Taylor allege bullying, harassment and pressure for employees to engage in unpaid partisan political activities outside of work hours. Additionally, it is alleged that the Hamilton Mountain MPP attempted to force an employee to file a false sexual harassment claim against a female co-worker. The two claimants from Taylor’s office are seeking $225,000 in damages each.
Similar complaints were filed against Hamilton East – Stoney Creek MPP Paul Miller in April. Constituency assistant Todd White, who also unsuccessfully challenged Miller for the NDP nomination in the riding in 2007 alleges he was demeaned and threatened by his employer, particularly concerning his parental leave status. White also claims he was force to perform unpaid partisan work. He is seeking $250,000 in damages and a return to full-time work under the employer whom he has claimed harassed him.
Party leader Andrea Horwath had said in April that she was awaiting the outcome of union grievance processes and Human Rights Tribunal decisions before taking action, if any, against the two members of her caucus, both of whom were re-elected to the legislature in June. COPE’s Patty Clancy suggests that in terminating and suspending the complaining employees ahead of arbitration outcomes, the NDP has betrayed their labour base. “Their only goal was to keep it out of the press during the election. They’ve demonstrated that the ONDP has no real commitment to workers’ rights.”
NDP MPP frustrated with union
Miller is heard expressing his frustrations with the union complaints against him, and the lack of personal accountability of his employee in a voicemail message leaked to the Toronto Sun in April.