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Workers at Community Living Sarnia are beginning strike preparations after negotiations for a new collective agreement broke down yesterday afternoon.

We are extremely disappointed that our employer, with whom we worked so hard to lobby for new provincial funding to improve the incomes of front line workers, is fighting us at the bargaining table,” said Brian Biggers, president of CUPE 4370, which represents 138 staff at the agency. “Like other community living employers, they made the case that we are underpaid to an extent that high turnover and recruitment difficulties are putting supports for persons with a developmental disability at risk.”

The union has requested a no-board report, which would put it in a legal strike/lockout position by the last week of June, joining CUPE members at Community Living Durham North who could also take job action in late June. CUPE has 46 community living bargaining units in negotiations this year.

Health and safety is another outstanding issue for Community Living Sarnia workers.

Ensuring a safe environment for workers, supported individuals, volunteers and visitors is a joint employer and union responsibility,” Biggers said. “That means policies and procedures must be negotiated as part of our collective agreement if we are to address these issues effectively.”

Other community living associations in the area have settled with their unions, Biggers said, “so it’s difficult to understand what is holding our employer back. We’ll be trying to get them to the table again to settle a fair collective agreement so we can continue working together to lobby the province for new resources to strengthen the supports and services we provide to individuals with a developmental disability.”

The union is planning an information meeting for parents and families of supported individuals on June 20, 7 p.m. at the Best Western Guildwood in Sarnia. The next scheduled date for mediation is June 25.

For more information, contact:

Brian Biggers, President, CUPE 4370, 519-333-7109
Doreen Beath, CUPE National Representative, 519-433-1753
Pat Daley, CUPE Communications, 416-616-6142