PEMBROKE – The union representing workers who support 150 adults with developmental disabilities will meet the management of Community Living Upper Ottawa Valley (CLUOV) in mediation on Wednesday, October 16.
Since they joined CUPE in 2011, the association’s 76 developmental support workers have been trying to reach their first collective agreement with CLUOV.
“Joining CUPE two years ago was the easy part; negotiating our first collective agreement with the employer has proved to be the hardest, and we are not there yet,” said CUPE 5088 president Jennette Surnoskie, who is also a support worker at CLUOV.
“Our members want to avoid any disruption in service to the vulnerable adults we support, but CLUOV must play its part by negotiating a fair first contact.”
Across Ontario, developmental services agencies like CLUOV have suffered major cuts in funding from the Ministry of Community and Social Services. But members of CUPE 5088 have endured a five-year wage freeze and believe they have more than shouldered the gap in funding.
Union leaders have also demonstrated that their working conditions are directly tied to the quality of services offered by CLUOV:
- Better conditions contribute to increased continuity of care by reducing staff turnover.
- Adequate sick leave ensures workers don’t spread illnesses among supported individuals.
- Replacing workers who are sick or in training means staff has more time to take supported individuals to participate in programs, run errands, meet friends, or attend medical appointments and physiotherapy.
Although the parties have reached agreement on some issues, significant areas of concern remain. In August, CUPE 5088’s bargaining committee asked for a show of solidarity in a strike vote; 96 per cent of members voted in favour. The union will be in a legal strike position at 12:01 am on October 17.
Members of CUPE 5088 appreciate the backing they have received from various family members and friends of supported individuals. “Our community is close-knit; families have been very helpful in putting our case to Community Living Upper Ottawa Valley executives and board members,” said President Surnoskie.
“Our proposals safeguard the quality of services and supports,” concluded President Surnoskie. “The employer does not have to see us as an adversary. We stand ready to work constructively with CLUOV to lobby the provincial government for adequate service funding, because the people we support deserve better.”
For further information, please contact:
President, CUPE Local 5088
CUPE National Representative