The president of the union representing staff at COSTI Immigrant Services today warned “time is running out” for the two sides to reach a fair collective agreement.
“Unless COSTI gets serious about negotiating, I’m very worried about our ability to achieve a collective agreement,” said Mahmoud Saddo, President of Local 2221 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 2221), which represents COSTI staff.
“We’ve been negotiating for months now, and a deal is achievable, but only if our employer starts taking bargaining seriously,” he added.
The two sides are scheduled to begin meetings today with a provincially-appointed conciliation officer. The conciliation officer was appointed at the union’s request in an effort to move the stalled negotiations forward.
CUPE 2221’s 170 members provide a wide array of services at 17 COSTI locations across the Greater Toronto Area including, career counselling, settlement assistance for new Canadians, specialized employment services for foreign-trained professionals, refugee assistance, and services for unemployed youth, to name just a few.
The union continues to seek modest improvements to wages and enhanced retirement security. While COSTI has offered to ‘migrate’ employees from the existing co-payment Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) into a stable pension plan, they have also insisted on concessions to benefits and a continuing freeze on wages.
“We understand the challenges facing agencies such as COSTI throughout the province, but we do not think it’s fair to expect people who have not had a wage increase since 2012 to continue to see their wages and benefits eroded in exchange for entry into a pension plan,” said Saddo.
The two sides will attempt to negotiate an agreement today, something Saddo believes is possible, “provided both sides come to the table prepared to listen and negotiate.”
For more information, please contact:
CUPE 2221 President