An arbitration ruling in the ongoing grievances involving the termination of 21 public works employees is providing the first confirmation that a police investigation into alleged theft of asphalt failed to collect evidence to support criminal charges.
“The City requested the police to investigate whether there was theft or fraud involved,” wrote Lorne Slotnick, Arbitrator of the grievance hearings. “I was advised that no charges were laid, and that the police wrote a letter to the City to that effect.”
City Hall asked Hamilton Police to investigate after it was alleged that 31 public works employees – 29 of whom were fired and the other two given 30 days unpaid suspensions – had either dumped or sold asphalt instead of filling potholes or putting in a full days work.
Since that time, some of the terminations have been revoked.
At present, the grievance only involves 21 of the original 29 fired employees. Four are grieving suspensions.
Over 30 days of hearings scheduled, City ordered to give union police letter
The Arbitrator revealed the outcome as part of an arbitration ruling released into the public domain Saturday on CanLII.
The City argued the outcome of the police investigation was not relevant to the grievances because, as the Arbitrator wrote: “the employees were not disciplined for any criminal act or any matter covered by the police investigation.”
The Union countered that City’s actions in calling in police to investigate are relevant to the grievances.
The Arbitrator agreed with the Union and the City has produced the letter.
Response from City, Union, and Councillors
At 10 p.m. Saturday night, the City and Union were asked for on-camera interviews on Monday. The Union was also asked if they will release the letter to the media.
“We are still in the early stages of the arbitration process as it relates to this matter,” CUPE Local 5167 President Derron Vernon quickly responded. “There are over 30 hearing dates scheduled. I will not discuss this matter until the hearings conclude.”
City Hall will comment Monday.