The signing of an essential services agreement by employees at New Dawn Guest Home in Sydney, Nova Scotia has set the clock on the countdown to job action. The conciliation officer will now declare an impasse, giving the employer 14 days to call the union back to the bargaining table, after which time the union will be in a legal strike position.

The 24 employees, represented by the CUPE 3067, care for residents with disabilities – administering medications, taking care of daily needs, and managing behaviours. Bargaining stalled after conciliation in late September, and the local voted 100% in favour of strike in early October.

“As the lead table for bargaining for Community Services, New Dawn is feeling the pressure to negotiate a fair wage package for members across the sector,” said CUPE representative Kathy MacLeod. “These workers haven’t seen a wage increase since April 1, 2020.”

MacLeod says many employees are struggling to meet their monthly expenses, and some have left for higher paying jobs elsewhere.

“This means staffing and recruitment issues, and increased stress levels for employees, and the residents also.”

Aside from wages, CUPE has been pushing for a defined benefits pension plan for all members throughout the sector. Right now, only a handful of locals have defined benefit plans. CUPE 3067 President Gail Lawrence says that members are reluctant to withdraw care from the residents, but says they are feeling disrespected and unappreciated. “The last thing we want to do is be out on a picket line, but at the moment, we can’t afford to live.”