CUPE 109 housing workers are calling on their employer, the Kingston Frontenac Housing Corporation (KFHC), to negotiate a fair deal that would help them deliver better service to residents.

“Throughout the pandemic, CUPE 109 housing workers went above and beyond to maintain optimum service delivery to residents,” said Adam Bol, CUPE 109 President. “We were considered essential workers and ensured our clients received the support they needed while taking on additional responsibilities. But now that we want fair compensation, KFHC is refusing to acknowledge our value.”

CUPE 109’s housing unit represents 25 maintenance, administrative, building monitors, and clerical workers who provide services for over 10,000 KFHC residents residing in a range of homes including semi-detached, row housing, and apartment units.

The housing staff have been working without a contract since December 2020. In December 2022, they voted 100% in favour of a strike if the employer refuses to negotiate a fair deal. KFHC is offering an average of 1.5% wage increase per year despite soaring inflation.

Bol said that KFHC should look at this opportunity to invest in retention and recruitment as they are currently bleeding workers to attrition due to tough working conditions and subpar wages. He said since the beginning of the pandemic, KFHC added 30 buildings without a substantive increase in staffing levels to maintain manageable workloads.

“I have been around for over 30 years and have never witnessed the extent of employee turnover we are seeing at the moment,” said one of the frontline workers who did not want to be named in the media release for fear of repercussions. “KFHC should listen to our concerns and meaningfully address them. Otherwise, they will lose committed and loyal workers and the quality of the service will suffer.”

The union says KFHC’s expansion during a housing crisis is a positive sign as Kingston desperately needs more affordable units. However, it’s the workers’ commitment and dedication that makes the operation viable.

“We are facing a housing crisis and we should seek to expand and improve our social housing programs. KFHC could play a leadership role in the coming years. But that can’t happen if they don’t respect their own workers who provide the service,” Bol said.