After 19 years of butting heads with provincial governments of various political stripes, 63-year-old labour leader Gary Gannage is retiring from the public service.
Gannage, president of the Association of Management, Administrative and Professional Crown Employees of Ontario (AMAPCEO), bid farewell Tuesday. He was a founding board member of the association, which represents mid-level team leaders in Ontario Public Service (OPS).
“We just started AMAPCEO during the Rae years and then I became president in November 1995, which was several months after Harris became premier,” Gannage told the Toronto Star, referring then NDP premier Bob Rae and Tory premier Mike Harris.
AMAPCEO represents more than 12,000 members in the OPS and seven other bargaining units in the broader public sector.
“I am proud of having led AMAPCEO from a small group of 4,600 employees whose only ambition was to get fair representation of their choosing during the reform of the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act,” said Gannage, who was with the OPS for almost 35 years.
His successor is Dave Bulmer, who served as the association’s treasurer for the past two years.
Among other things, Gannage said he was proud of his role in shaping the province’s Whistle Blower Protection provisions under the Public Services Act, and in the drafting of Bill 180, Ontario’s anti-harassment legislation.
AMAPCEO had a particularly tough bargaining session this year with a Liberal government battling a $12.5 billion deficit. In the end, it settled on a four-year contract with zero per cent increases in the first two years and 1.4 per cent each of the last two years.
“So much of labour policy is currently being developed out of the situation with the fiscal plan itself,” Gannage said, lamenting the fact that governments refuse to bring in more revenue through tax increases and so on.
“When you have governments who, to date, have been reluctant to close that fiscal gap by raising revenue, you get a lot of pressure on programs and people who deliver those programs,” he said.