OTTAWA — Inmates failed in their first bid to organize a national union for prisoners who are working while incarcerated in federal penitentiaries because that employment does not make them public servants.
The organizing drive was stymied by a Public Service Labour Relations Board ruling that it doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear inmates’ complaint because the work they do for rehabilitation programs does not make them employees of Correctional Services of Canada. The decision, based on written submissions, was released this week.
Inmates began a campaign to create a union, Canadian Prisoners Labour Confederation, at the Mountain Institution in Agassiz, B.C. more than a year ago to address pay, working conditions and other issues while working in rehabilitation programs. It was hailed as the first attempt to unionize inmates in Canada.
Um, sorry, I fail to see how murderers and rapists somehow qualify as “public servants.” I would recommend a severe fish-broth “hunger strike” to get me to see the error of my ways. Chief Theresa Spence could give you tips on organizing one, and might even join you in solidarity. Just don’t touch her stash of Doritos — you don’t mess with Mother Theresa’s emergency snacks and live to tell the tale.