Dedicated child care workers from three Ottawa Y centres stood up for high-quality child care on Monday night by rejecting what was termed a “shameful” bargaining offer from the YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region.

The decision by some 40 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) initiated job action that began as of 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, July 12, at Taggart Family Y, Ruddy Family Y and Avalon Public School. CUPE represents Early Childhood Educators (ECEs), Educational Assistants (EAs) and kitchen staff at each location.

The workers have been without a contract for more than a year and negotiations with the YMCA-YWCA for a new collective agreement have been protracted. Bargaining with the help of a ministry-appointed mediator ended Monday afternoon, producing an offer that members roundly condemned as working against the provision of the high-quality services they are determined to deliver for Ottawa-area children and families.

Throughout bargaining, workers’ representatives put forward the fundamental argument that better pay, benefits and working conditions promote a stable, secure environment that offers better continuity of care for young children.

“By any measure, workers in the Y’s child care centres are underpaid, and this can’t help but have an effect on the quality of service,” said Dan Pike, National Representative for CUPE.

“Child care workers in other not-for-profit centres, like Andrew Fleck Child Care Services, earn up to twice the wages of their counterparts at the YMCA-YWCA and the Y’s child care workers also lack good benefits and a real pension plan.”

The average hourly wage for ECEs in 2012 was $17.29; the current average YMCA-YWCA wage for ECEs (permanent and casual) is $14.41 an hour. The Ottawa-area child care workers are also seeking benefits that on par with those enjoyed by employees at the Toronto Y and membership in a secure, accessible pension plan, which will allow them to commit to making child care their career.

CUPE members will begin picketing the three YMCA-YWCA centres Tuesday morning at 7:00 a.m. and hope to engage then with parents and families about their aims for a fair deal that values the vital work they do.

For more information, please contact:

Mary Unan
CUPE Communications

Athina Basiliadis
President, CUPE 2204

Colin MacDougall
CUPE National Representative