Harrassment & Bullying Rampant In 3 NDP Offices

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Mighty Middle Mighty Middle's picture
Harrassment & Bullying Rampant In 3 NDP Offices

Maybe this is why the NDP & Andrea Horwath has been MIA during the PC upheaval recently? That they have been distracted by problems in their own offices.

Between the three constituent offices of Horwath in Hamilton Centre, Paul Miller in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek and Monique Taylor in Hamilton Mountain; it appears no less than 11 workers have been  either fired, have quit, were bought out after filing grievances– some of which have gone to arbitrations which are still pending –or were simply paid to stay at home.

http://bayobserver.ca/labour-turmoil-in-local-ndp-constituency-offices/

jerrym

I'm getting a virus warning on the above url.

Mighty Middle Mighty Middle's picture

I'll cut and paste

Labour Turmoil In Local NDP Constituency Offices

When voters think of the political party most likely to be leading the charge in advocating for workplace health and safety, especially in areas like workplace harassment, most would point to the NDP as the workers’ champion. Indeed, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath addressed the issue at the recent NDP convention in Ottawa, telling reporters, “Whether it’s a political party, whether it’s a workplace…the bottom line is, ‘enough is enough. It’s time to make sure that women and people generally are able to work safely, with dignity, without harassment.”

Yet, against that backdrop, the Bay Observer has learned that in the three NDP constituency offices in Hamilton, including Horwath’s own constituency office, there have been several serious allegations of harassment and bullying of MPP office employees that have led to significant staff departures. Between the three constituent offices of Horwath in Hamilton Centre, Paul Miller in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek and Monique Taylor in Hamilton Mountain; it appears no less than 11 workers have been  either fired, have quit, were bought out after filing grievances– some of which have gone to arbitrations which are still pending –or were simply paid to stay at home.

Todd White is the Chair of the Hamilton and District School Board. He is also employed in the Constituency office of Hamilton East Stoney Creek MPP Paul Miller, a job he has had for nearly ten years. At least he is still on the payroll; but he confirmed to the Bay Observer that he hasn’t actually been in the office since last June. In response to the mystery of why he is being paid to stay home he referred the Bay Observer to Mr. Miller for an explanation. For his part Miller referred us to the NDP Director of operations.

The Bay Observer talked to several former constituency workers who asked for anonymity on the grounds that being identified would have a negative effect on their current employment prospects.

Reminiscent of the movie Horrible Bosses, a pattern emerges in the narrative by former staffers describing a toxic office climate where the MPP sometimes intimidated and bullied them, where the workload was crushing, where training was non-existent, and where the MPPs demanded personal loyalty by staff above other qualifications. According to one former staffer, a Hamilton MPP asked an employee to do an online search on the status of a private members bill the MPP had sponsored. When the worker, who was relatively new to the job, asked for instructions on how to execute the search, a co-worker recalls the MPP yelling “are you (expletive) kidding? Are you (expletive)  stupid? The worker went home in tears. Said one former worker, “when I left (MPP’s employ) I was physically and mentally broken. They wanted me to sign a non-disclosure agreement—I told them to go to hell.” The Bay Observer has learned that several of the terminated employees were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements.  Another worker described a situation where the MPP tried to get her to file a false sexual harassment accusation against a fellow worker in order to create grounds for that employee’s termination. That latter allegation has been confirmed by two other former employees of MPP’s.

Things came to a public head this past winter during the controversy created when some Tim Horton’s outlets cut back worker benefits citing the increase in minimum wage. The NDP, including Monique Taylor, participated in demonstrations outside the coffee shops. A social media post depicted Taylor “confronting corporate bully bosses at a Tim Horton’s on her home turf.” This was too much for one of her former constituency workers who posted “Are you (expletive) kidding me? That’s calling the kettle black!!! Can you say hypocrisy at its best???”

For her part, MPP Andrea Horwath filed a grievance against the union over her former employee Geraldine McMullen, who court documents say was fired in 2012 but remained on the payroll until November 2013, at which time Horwath grieved the union to stop the payments. The matter was unresolved into 2014. McMullin is a past candidate for Hamilton City Council. Her candidacy in the Ward 7 By-election won by Donna Skelly sparked a clash between two different NDP factions backing different candidates in that race.

Stress leave is a recurring theme in all three constituency offices. One worker who has been on leave for several months told the Bay Observer, “I’ve never been on anti-depressants and sleeping pills in my life and now I am. My doctor told me never to go back.”

A cone of silence has descended over efforts to obtain further documentation of the employee complaints. The Bay Observer contacted Monique Taylor’s office seeking a reaction to the allegations. The only response came from Marla DiCandia, Director of Operations of the Ontario NDP who said our email seeking response, “contains information that is not accurate and entirely out of context.  While we would like to provide a response, we do not discuss employment-related issues with the media out of respect and concern for the privacy of our employees.” We invited Ms. DiCandia to identify any factual errors.  The Bay Observer has also made repeated attempts to contact Patty Clancy a director of Canadian Office and Professional Employees union to confirm the status of the grievances filed by the constituency workers without success. Indeed, three of the former workers expressed deep dissatisfaction with the union’s actions on their behalf; one saying, “The Union will do what’s best for the Union but also what’s best for the NDP. The union was not representing me properly.”

In an effort to find out how much these terminations and buy-outs are costing taxpayers, the Bay Observer contacted Scott Turner, the Ontario Legislature officer responsible for constituency finances who said existing legislation prohibits him from releasing the information. Anticipating that the government would not release information about identifiable persons we asked for the global amount paid out for terminations for all five Hamilton constituencies without success. The Bay Observer has filed an appeal to the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

People familiar with constituency offices have told the Bay Observer that even without a harassing work environment, constituency work is stressful and the caseload can be overwhelming. A typical Hamilton provincial or federal riding covers the same territory and population as several city wards, yet the budget allocated to each constituency office only allows a staff of two, a third worker supports the MPP at Queen’s Park. But the stress of the job is exacerbated if the MPP lacks the background, temperament or administrative skills to manage a small staff. A former constituency worker described her work pressures. “The MPP didn’t fulfil her duties to constituents …Staff … found the MPP unavailable when they needed to discuss. (The MPP was) more concerned with big ticket items that would enhance (the member’s) profile as a critic. We were trying to deal with issues like homelessness, abuse, CAS issues …you can’t leave this stuff at the office when you go home. You need support. One former constituency worker told the Bay Observer, “With the heavy caseload I started going in early and staying late but (the MPP) said there would be no lieu time (The MPP) told me I also had to do riding association work on my own time. There was pressure to work on municipal and federal campaigns (for candidates supported by the MPP) on our own time as well.”

The COPE union agreement specifically forbids pressuring workers to participate in the MPP’s political campaigns or those of people supported by the MPP, but everyone contacted by the Bay Observer said the rule is routinely ignored. As one former staffer put it, “these MPPs are delusional. They have no training in managing people. No background in HR. They treat office staff as if they are personal assistants. It was simply expected that staff would run election campaigns. If you said no they would then start looking for other ways of getting you out.”

For the taxpayer, in addition to the cost of paying off severed employees; there is a negative impact on the ability of constituency offices to perform their basic function—looking after public enquiries. If an employee goes on a long term sick leave or receives a severance package, the cost comes out of a legislature budget—not the MPPs, giving them the ability to hire someone to fill in. But if an employee is being paid to stay home, as is currently the case of Todd White, who works for MPP Paul Miller, the office has to get by with reduced staffing as it has apparently been doing since June of 2017.

Commenting recently on sexual and other forms of harassment in the workplace, Horwath stressed the importance of “ensuring that all staff, managers and elected officials are able to do their important work in an environment that is free from harassment in any form.” To that end the NDP will be offering training to MPPs and staff.

Ciabatta2

No surprise really.  It's an awful environment and makes for an awful job.  Politicians are known to be awful bosses.

Sean in Ottawa

Since the NDP has claimed a higher moral authority it has a higher moral responsibility.

Pondering

It is still demoralizing to know things are that bad even in a supposedly progressive party/organization. It's not like they don't know any better. They just feel entitled to their entitlements. It is a warning that once they are in power they will be no different than other parties. They will look to their own self-interests.

quizzical

why is it a warning?

Sean in Ottawa

I do not feel quite as pessimistic if only becuase NDP workers are unionized. These stories are coming out because the union is taking action. The NDP has been hypocritical in some of these cases but it is likely to be pushed harder and further than other parties may be. Things do seem to be changing -- and in all parties. That may be way overdue but isn't it hopeful? I think these types of stories have been going on for years. The fact that we are hearing about them should be cause to presume that things are changing.

I think that the silencing effect is the issue here -- I do not presume that the union was ignoring these stories in the past but that often they were not getting reported to the union. I hope that we are into a time when this behaviour will more likely be reported than not and that perpetrators can presume that there are consequenses.

Pondering

quizzical wrote:
why is it a warning?

It is a warning not to look to politicians to advance social justice causes. That isn't the business they are in. A warning to myself. I have such high hopes for Singh, I don't mean in seats necessarily because I think that will be extremely difficult in 2019. I mean hope that he will move the inequality topic forward, that he will point the finger in the right direction, wealthy people, and that by 2023 he will be in a position to win. 

I was less idealistic about Trudeau. He has performed as expected, more poorly in some areas but better in others. My choice to support him was based in having zero faith in Mulcair but it was also a cynical choice. I figured neoliberalism isn't going anywhere soon, the legalization of cannabis was and is important on a multitude of levels. It's an industry that generates a lot of profits and jobs from production to tourism to medical research. Medical research stands to help many people. Racism. It is an excuse to arrest PoCs and anyone on the street. The injustice of having such an inoculous substance criminalized. To be the first of the G20 countries to fully legalize as we are is ground-breaking. So, very important topic to me. Mulcair going against legalization caused me to lose faith in the NDP as a justice party as did the way they handled the sexual misconduct of the Liberal MPs. I won't detail my objections to that again but the party dropped hugely in my eyes over that situation. 

Singh gives me hope but he hasn't rolled out details yet. I fully understand and accept that. Realistically he has to play his cards close to the chest for now while establishing the basic facts of inequality and how it relates to public policy. I am going to be really disappointed when the platform does come out if it is just a slightly improved Liberal platform. I want him to expose and address neoliberalism through policy. 

So this is a warning to myself to maintain my cynicism towards all political parties as organizations in it for themselves including the NDP. We cannot look to political parties to save us no matter how noble their principles appear to be. 

NDPP

Good you've figured it out. You're right and it's a critical developmental task for others to as well. Otherwise nothing changes.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Since the NDP has claimed a higher moral authority it has a higher moral responsibility.

Every party claims a higher moral authority.  Or tell me which party says "we're happy to be #2, but the moral party is that other party".

This brings to mind the "Progressive populism" thread.  Every party believes themself to be progressive.  Every party believes themself to have the interests of the common person in mind.  Every.  Single.  One.

This is as silly as saying that Calgary Flames fans have a special responsibility to be well behaved since they claim their team is the best.  The fans of other teams, who say "no, our team is not the best, the Calgary Flames called dibs on that" are excluded from this responsibility.

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
Since the NDP has claimed a higher moral authority it has a higher moral responsibility.

Every party claims a higher moral authority.  Or tell me which party says "we're happy to be #2, but the moral party is that other party".

This brings to mind the "Progressive populism" thread.  Every party believes themself to be progressive.  Every party believes themself to have the interests of the common person in mind.  Every.  Single.  One.

This is as silly as saying that Calgary Flames fans have a special responsibility to be well behaved since they claim their team is the best.  The fans of other teams, who say "no, our team is not the best, the Calgary Flames called dibs on that" are excluded from this responsibility.

Do you feel better?

Then consider how the NDP has so often claimed to be the leader on bullying, workers, and gender politics and policies.

We are not just talking about moral authority in general we are talking about specific to this topic.

As soon as you consider the actual context and the story itself you would see how absolutely ridiculous your post is.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Do you feel better?

Than what?

Quote:
Then consider how the NDP has so often claimed to be the leader on bullying, workers, and gender politics and policies.

Again, all I need to hear is which other party doesn't believe they're better than the NDP at this.

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
Do you feel better?

Than what?

Quote:
Then consider how the NDP has so often claimed to be the leader on bullying, workers, and gender politics and policies.

Again, all I need to hear is which other party doesn't believe they're better than the NDP at this.

Well you only get to have one side of the conversation.

I pointed out that the NDP claimed the leadership and the moral authority on the file. No party has claimed this as consistently and often as the NDP. Other parties, have not conceded this directly but they have been silent more often than not when the NDP has spoken on theses issues. These issues are the subject of NDP platforms more than other parties. So in light of the NDP grander statements the NDP has additional responsibility. And no, it does nto have to have the other parties acknowledge directly this other than the fact that they do speak on these things much, much less.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

OK.  I guess that if the NDP claims higher ground, but doesn't act to keep it, the punishment is not being seen as holding that higher ground.

If this means that the NDP is no more moral than any other party when it comes to the harrassment of colleagues then let them pay their dues.  They flew too close to the sun, and their waxen wings melted.

But by trying, arrogantly, to fly higher they also fell further, so please, can we not have a bunch of chin music about how they must pay a greater price, too?

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

OK.  I guess that if the NDP claims higher ground, but doesn't act to keep it, the punishment is not being seen as holding that higher ground.

If this means that the NDP is no more moral than any other party when it comes to the harrassment of colleagues then let them pay their dues.  They flew too close to the sun, and their waxen wings melted.

But by trying, arrogantly, to fly higher they also fell further, so please, can we not have a bunch of chin music about how they must pay a greater price, too?

No - I agree with aspiring to a high standard. I am okay with calling out hypocrisy as well. I do think that you need to meet a high standard if you claim it but I think progress happens by people doing exactly that.

Pondering

The NDP began for workers and has long been seen as the conscience of parliament which has been a double-edged sword. The conscience of parliament never leads it. On the one hand it compliments but on the other suggests the NDP would be too bleeding heart to run government.

So Layton tried to bring the party more to the centre to convince voters the NDP isn't too bleeding heart. Mulcair doubled down which was looking more and more successful until Trudeau turned up. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise as it forced the NDP to move back towards the left. 

Pondering

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
​I do not feel quite as pessimistic if only becuase NDP workers are unionized. These stories are coming out because the union is taking action. The NDP has been hypocritical in some of these cases but it is likely to be pushed harder and further than other parties may be. Things do seem to be changing -- and in all parties. That may be way overdue but isn't it hopeful? I think these types of stories have been going on for years. The fact that we are hearing about them should be cause to presume that things are changing. 

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
 I think that the silencing effect is the issue here -- I do not presume that the union was ignoring these stories in the past but that often they were not getting reported to the union. I hope that we are into a time when this behaviour will more likely be reported than not and that perpetrators can presume that there are consequenses. 

It is also a problem that victims have to be willing to make their complaints official. That seems to be what is changing. Instead of requiring the victim to come forward any report even by a third party is resulting in an investigation. I suppose that is reason for hope. 

It is both disturbing and reassuring that some of the victims are men. 

Sean in Ottawa

Pondering wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
​I do not feel quite as pessimistic if only becuase NDP workers are unionized. These stories are coming out because the union is taking action. The NDP has been hypocritical in some of these cases but it is likely to be pushed harder and further than other parties may be. Things do seem to be changing -- and in all parties. That may be way overdue but isn't it hopeful? I think these types of stories have been going on for years. The fact that we are hearing about them should be cause to presume that things are changing. 

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
 I think that the silencing effect is the issue here -- I do not presume that the union was ignoring these stories in the past but that often they were not getting reported to the union. I hope that we are into a time when this behaviour will more likely be reported than not and that perpetrators can presume that there are consequenses. 

It is also a problem that victims have to be willing to make their complaints official. That seems to be what is changing. Instead of requiring the victim to come forward any report even by a third party is resulting in an investigation. I suppose that is reason for hope. 

It is both disturbing and reassuring that some of the victims are men. 

I think the reason for hope is that there are consequences more often now.

I can't be cynical enough about those who are happy for the NDP to claim authority on this and then say they are just one of the others. a party that is not leading this in not just words but deads does not deserve a vote. Sorry to be blunt but that is a fact.

Now to their credit the NDP does seem to be willing to take this seriously now as are other parties -- but nobody should pretend that the higher standard they claim is not a committment they need to deliver on.

NDPP

NDP Employee Says Hamilton MPP Bullied Him and Made Racist Comments

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/ndp-miller-allegations-1.4615621

"A local NDP MPP faces allegations of bullying, racist comments and abuse of office resources to campaign in a news complaint filed to Ontario's human rights tribunal. Todd White an active party volunteer and chair of the local public school-board has filed a complaint against MPP Paul Miller, his longtime employer in the riding of Hamilton-East-Stoney Creek..."

ctrl190

Paul Miller just opened his campaign office in Hamilton. I guess the investigation is over?