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(London) - Today, the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 101 reluctantly filed a grievance on behalf of Stephen Joksas, which challenges his September 11, 2000 termination by the City of London. The union was forced to file the grievance as the time limit for filing it expired today and the City refused the unions request to waive those time limits, pending the completion of the unions investigation into the matter. The union has also had little choice given its legal obligation to represent Mr. Joksas fairly.

The City granted Mr. Joksas a leave of absence in May 2000 to allow for his absence from work due to his expected incarceration, but the City revoked the leave last week when it was made public. On September 1, 2000, Joksas was sentenced to 2 years less one day for the aggravated sexual assault of a co-worker. The sentence included an order restricting Joksas to one floor of City Hall upon his return to work. The victim of the assault, also a CUPE Local 101 member, strongly opposes Joksass return to the workplace.

We would have strongly preferred that our investigation into this whole matter be completed before being forced to file a grievance, but the City made us act before our investigation was complete, explained Shelley Navarroli, CUPE Local 101 President. The union was facing the likelihood of being charged by Mr. Joksas with failing to meet its legal duty to fairly represent him, if it allowed the time limits to expire before completing its investigation. I wish with all my heart we did not have to do this today, but we were facing significant legal liability if we did not, Navarroli added.

One remedy the Labour Board could have ordered is to allow Joksas to hire his own lawyer to represent himself in the grievance and arbitration process. We were not prepared to risk losing control of this matter to Steve Joksas and his lawyer, says Navarroli.

Navarroli stressed that the filing of the grievance must not be taken as an indication of the unions support for Mr. Joksas, or any lack of support for his victim. Navarroli continues, The filing of the grievance means nothing about our view of this matter. That will be determined by the investigation we are conducting. Needless to say, we are repulsed by this crime and remain entirely sympathetic to the concerns of the victim, which we intend to make key to our investigation.

Even at this early stage the union refused to state in the grievance that Joksas was entitled to return to work. Now that her lawyer has told us that the victim can not return to work if Joksas is at work, we have some serious doubts about him coming back. We need to look at this in a professional fashion and make sure we get it right, says Navarroli.

For further information:

Shelley Navarroli, CUPE Local 101 President
519-432-6695 (Local Union Office)

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