PEMBROKE Local 2204 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 30 teaching and kitchen staff at the Wise Owl Day Care, with centers in Pembroke, Petawawa and Barrys Bay, voted 94% in favour of strike action if an agreement cannot be reached with the private, non-profit day care.
The last thing our members want is a strike because our work is a labour of love, not just a job, says Shellie Bird, Local 2204 education officer. We have been in bargaining with this employer since June of 2000, and they are still asking us to accept a wage freeze for another 4-year contract thats totally unreasonable.
Wise Owl day care workers earn an average of $9 an hour, and have not had a wage increase in 9 years. Accepting a wage freeze for four years would mean no raise in 13 years.
Provincial downloading of day care services to Renfrew County Council has created new challenges, and we offered solutions to settle this dispute, including accepting a wage freeze for one year and lobbying for increased funding, says Nadine de Haan, Wise Owl unit president with Local 2204. Instead, the employer applied for a forced vote on their final offer of a 4-year deal with no increase our members resoundingly rejected it earlier this week.
Local 2204 is attempting to set up further talks, although none have been scheduled at this time. We will do everything we can to avoid a strike, says de Haan. But our members need to earn a living too. We are asking parents and the public for their support by contacting municipal and county concillors and urging them to provide stable, adequate funding and a decent wage for child care workers.
For further information, please contact:
Shellie Bird, Education Officer CUPE 2204
Nadine de Haan, Unit President CUPE 2204
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications