Canada: Former CUPE chief steward caught in cash-for-jobs scandal
29 December 2017
Ontario labour arbitrator Paula Knopf ruled earlier this month that a grievance filed by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 5001 can proceed to a hearing on February 23. The grievance concerns an extortion scandal at Toronto Western Hospital in which the union’s chief shop steward allegedly demanded payments from job applicants for part-time cleaner positions. The chief shop steward, identified only as JL in the arbitrator’s report, was fired by the hospital earlier this year.
The union does not dispute JL’s involvement, but is demanding that an independent investigation be pursued to ascertain the extent of hospital management’s role in the kick-back scheme. Hospital management had refused to address the grievance arguing that any monies that changed hands did so before the job applicants had been hired.
In statements examined by Knopf, several cleaners at the hospital complained that they had paid JL sums varying between $1,500 and $2,000 each in 2015 to be hired part time at $21 per hour. The scheme came to light when a cleaner threatened JL with exposing the cash-for-jobs scam. She was subsequently fired for “unusual and unauthorized activity” and alleges that her signature was forged on a memo concerning her termination. According to the cleaner, JL then demanded another $100 in exchange for a reference letter from hospital management.
Since final hiring decisions and the writing of reference letters were the responsibility of management, hospital personnel investigated a manager closely associated with these matters but claimed that nothing implicated her. No record of the interview with the suspected manager was produced by the hospital….