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The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 12 social service and operations employees at the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA), is urging the Board of Directors to resume negotiations to reach a fair contract settlement. 

The last thing we want is a strike, and we are urging management to get back to the table as soon as possible with the clear intention of reaching a negotiated settlement,” said Matthew Graves, CUPE National Representative. The workers have been in a legal strike or lockout position since July 31, but are willing to continue negotiations beyond the strike deadline, hoping to reach a settlement. They previously voted 100 per cent in favour of a strike if a negotiated settlement cannot be reached. 

After almost two years of negotiations, we still have not seen a fair contract offer from this employer despite our best efforts,” said Graves. “Our members have not had an increase in six years, and that means workers have been losing ground to inflation for a long time now and they are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.” 

The workers advocate on behalf of diverse communities on various economic, social, political, education and other issues. They also offer social, cultural and education programs that meet the needs of the membership and the community. There are 11 social service workers and one building operations person in the bargaining unit. The following programs would be affected by a strike or lockout: Leader in Partnership (LIP); Kujichagulia Club (K-Club); Youth Outreach Worker (YOW); Settlement and Adaptation Program (SAP); Violence Against Women (VAW) program; Caribbean Canadian Seniors (CCS); Caribbean Youth and Family Services (CYFS); Employment Program (EP); Building Rentals;  and other anti-violence, women’s, seniors’, conflict resolution, family mediation, crisis counselling, crisis intervention and social programs. 

We would much rather serve the needs of the numerous clients who depend on us,” said Beverly Valentine. “While we are deeply committed to our organization and the community we serve, we too have homes and families who depend on us. How can we effectively fight to improve the lives of others if we can’t stand up for fairness for ourselves?  We urge the Jamaican Canadian Association to come back to the bargaining table and sit down with us to reach a contract settlement that’s fair and one that respects our community.” 

For further information, please contact: 

Matthew Graves
CUPE National Representative

Beverly Valentine
CUPE 4772.01 Spokesperson