After being mandated to accept zero per cent wage increases in their last contract and discovering that senior management received a 9 per cent wage increase in one year alone during the same period, frontline Children’s Aid Society (CAS) workers at Family and Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County are standing up to management in their quest to seek a fair contract to fight off further inequality and disparity at the agency, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

“Our members are standing up and saying no to further inequality and demanding to be treated fairly and with respect,” says Cathy Thomas, president of CUPE 4325. “We are not asking for 9 per cent wage increases that management received, but we are asking the agency to create a more balanced and equal work place where our members’ work is recognized and valued with a fair contract.”

Thomas is referring to the 2014 sunshine list where three of the four senior managers received well over 9 per cent wage increases, and the now retired Executive Director, the highest paid manager, received 6.43 per cent wage increases all in one year alone. These substantial raises are in stark contrast to the frontline workers who reluctantly endured a zero per cent increase for two consecutive years during the same contract period.

“That’s why our members rejected management’s last contract offer and we are saying no to further widening the disparity that exists in this agency,” continued Thomas. “Our members just want a fair contract so we can continue to help at-risk children and their families – the last thing we want is a service disruption that would further affect our clients.”

Both parties will be entering mediation talks on Monday, April 4, with the assistance of a provincial mediator. They face a legal lockout or strike deadline on Saturday, April 9, at 12:01 a.m. CUPE 4325 represents 130 social service workers who help run the agency and deliver important programs for at-risk children and youth and their families. These workers provide ongoing support and services to 450 families, assist 150 to 200 children in our agency’s care, work with 74 foster families, and handle 25 to 50 walk-ins a day, with many other daily duties that keep the agency operating on a daily basis. Their previous contract expired on March 31, 2015.

“We are urging our board members to stand with the frontline workers and pave the way for management to return to the bargaining table with a clear intention to reach a fair collective agreement and avoid an unnecessary service disruption,” concluded Thomas.

For more information, please contact:

Cathy Thomas, President of CUPE 4325, 226-808-7893

Diana Zawadzki, CUPE National Representative, 905-515-9536

James Chai, CUPE Communications, 905-739-3999