“Community social service workers provide support and frontline services that maintain our social safety net. They are the people who are in daily and direct contact with children, people living with disabilities, the homeless, those with addictions, new Canadians, families in crisis, women experiencing abuse and others facing traumatic situations. Yet, they are among the lowest paid unionized workers and have little, if anything, in the way of pensions and benefits. They are owed so much more.”
Support has also come from the Vancouver and District Labour Council. VDLC President Joey Hartman says CCS workers “subsidize the services they provide with their low wages and inferior benefits and conditions. Without adequate job security and guarantees of service continuity, the workers are as vulnerable as their clients. The value of this work has never been properly recognized and that needs to change.”
CUPE local strike votes are underway daily across the province and are expected to be completed by the end of April. Strike vote results from all nine member unions in the Community Social Services Bargaining Association are expected by the middle of May. The process was started after the last proposal for concessions tabled by the Community Social Services Employers Association on March 30.
“It’s crucial that members make sure to vote,” says CUPE National representative Cheryl Colborne. “This is our opportunity to acknowledge the solidarity and support for CSS workers throughout B.C.” Colborne adds that “after the employers’ repeated calls for concessions, we are expecting a strong strike mandate.”
CUPE represents approximately 2,500 workers of the 17,300 in B.C.’s community social services sector and is the second largest union for social services in B.C.
CUPE community social services members work in group homes, shelters and supported housing, sexual assault centres and victims’ services, transition houses, child care centres and programs for counseling, rehabilitation, employment training, outreach, advocacy and referral services as well as crisis lines and information services.