RICHMOND—It took nearly five years for a well-publicized harassment case at the City of Richmond involving CUPE city workers to be settled. Veteran mediator/arbitrator Vince Ready was brought in and submitted his award to all parties last week.
“If there is one thing this grievance brought home to everyone involved, it is that harassment complaints must be dealt with early, expeditiously and responsibly,” says CUPE National representative Robin Jones.
As part of the settlement, Mr. Ready appointed a panel made up of himself and a representative from the employer, and from the union as advocates and advisors. For the next two years the panel will oversee an expedited process and would be able to make recommendations that would hopefully get to the root of the problems before they escalate.
“We welcome the appointment of Vince Ready to deal with any future harassment complaints at the City of Richmond,” says Jones. “Putting in place a panel for the next two years recognizes that there were problems with what is considered acceptable workplace conduct and that it doesn’t help to have complaints languish for years without resolution.”
This case involved city worker Mario Jose Ferreira, who alleged he was harassed by coworkers after reporting irregularities in the workplace, and went on to involve multiple grievances from the alleged harassers, court hearings, stories in the media and untold personal hardship on all sides before it was finally resolved.
Carmela Allevato, CUPE legal counsel in the case, speaks to the innovative nature of Mr. Ready’s decision to put in place an expedited process for harassment complaints, saying that the grievance procedure is an inadequate way to deal with such matters. Her comments, as well as more details of this case, can be found at callevato.blogspot.com.
“The local is looking forward to creating a respectful, safe and harassment-free workplace for all of its members,” says Jones.
CUPE 394, the union representing all workers involved in this case, is pleased that Mr. Ferreira’s grievance that he was harassed was settled to the satisfaction of all parties. A separate and confidential agreement governs the terms of Mr. Ferreira’s settlement.
Contact: Robin Jones, CUPE National representative, 604-314-6586
Diane Kalen, CUPE National communications representative, 778-229-0258