HALIFAX – Voicing their frustration with a lack of funding for their sector, employees at Progress Centre for Early Intervention have voted 100 per cent in favour of possible strike action.
CUPE National Representative Naomi Stewart says, “The members of Local 5054 have been trying to negotiate a first contract for a full two years now and lay the blame squarely on inadequate funding from the province. The recently renamed Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has taken over jurisdiction for the centre from the Department of Community Services.
“This highly-educated workforce, almost all of them women and many of whom have their Masters Degrees, has had the same starting salary for more than 15 years. In that same period they’ve had one percentage increase from the province and two from their own board of directors.
“They are having to depend on the good graces of organizations like the Halifax Branch of The Progress Club and United Way Halifax to fund core programming,” says Stewart.
The group does not qualify for the province’s recently introduced First Contract Legislation because they certified their union before the law came into effect. Says Stewart, “They are a perfect example of why the changes were needed.”
Stewart says, “We have conciliation talks scheduled for Monday, May 27, but there are several outstanding issues, many of them monetary, and this employer is facing major challenges as a result of those funding shortfalls.”
CUPE represents 13 employees at the Progress Centre including early interventionists, library technicians, administrative assistants and playgroup co-ordinators.