In a Labour Day statement, NDP leader Andrea Horwath declared, “Today, we celebrate our sisters and brothers who fought to ensure that all workers in Ontario could enjoy the gains made through better working conditions, stronger protections, and the updated laws they need to build a great life.” But just a day later, the Union representing former staffers of the constituency offices of MPPs Monique Taylor and Paul Miller charged the NDP with “attacking their own employees, members of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE), Local 343, by firing one worker and stopping pay to two more for bringing forward allegations of Human Rights violations”. The staffers, who had been on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of multiple union grievances and three Human Rights complaints, have now been cut off from salary. The release appears to confirm reports that Todd White, who worked for Miller for more than 10 years had been terminated. Sandra Troulinos who previously worked in Taylor’s office told the Bay Observer that her pay had been cut off. “I have four kids, so if I have to, I will show up at Taylor’s constituency office for work,” she said. As of press time an arbitration hearing had been scheduled to deal with Troulinos’ grievances. Still looming are Human Rights Tribunal hearings into complaints filed by Troulinos, Alissa Watt and Todd White.
In a news release COPE says of the NDP Caucus “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. They acted in bad faith when they agreed to this arbitration process and then turned around and punished our members.” In a series of articles earlier this year, the Bay Observer reported that between the three constituency offices of Taylor, Miller and NDP leader Andrea Horwath, no less than 11 constituency workers have either been fired, have quit, were bought out after filing grievances, or in the case of White and Troulinos were placed on paid administrative leave. Three former Taylor staffers either have been, or are currently under doctor’s care. Attempts by the Bay Observer to learn the cost of the terminations and buyouts were rebuffed by the NDP Caucus office and the provincial office that oversees MPP budgets. An appeal to the Information and Privacy office was also unsuccessful. Under existing legislation the public is not entitled to know details of MPP’s office budgets. They are only entitled to access MPPs personal travel and accommodation expenses which represent only a small portion of MPP’s overall budgets. The three Hamilton members have refused comment on these matters.
Troulinos filed a Human Rights complaint against Taylor alleging harassment, bullying and persistent pressure to file a false claim of sexual harassment against a co-worker. In Todd White’s application he describes an 11- year employment history as a constituency worker for MPP Paul Miller; which went sour in the last two years as White and his wife started a family, making White less available for after-hours political work on behalf of the MPP. The application states that Miller abused his public office “through verbal and written direction that staff perform…re-election activities (for Miller) as paid public employees or face disciplinary action.”White says Miller commenced a campaign to terminate him, and bragged about his plan to outsiders. In addition, White alleges Miller poisoned the office workplace with his “routine racist, sexist and homophobic comments”.
In what may be an indication of the rift between Miller and White, Miller’s spouse is running against White for the Board of Education.