MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – The union representing employees of the Region of Peel is taking a novel approach to get its story on pay equity to the public. Local 966 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees will be using Twitter and Facebook, among other social networks, to allow its members to make direct contact with everyone in the region.
“We’re using this technology to make a connection with the public,” says Mary Jo Falle, president of the 3,000-member local. “We want people to know what we go through in a typical workday. When they see what our work is about, we think people will make a connection with our members and with the concept of pay equity. We think they’ll see the Region has an obligation to treat these women fairly.”
The union says more than 700 of its members, who work in the Region of Peel’s long-term care centres, have been underpaid for the past 15 years because they are predominantly women.
“Provincial law says a large employer like the Region of Peel needs a plan to make sure women employees are paid according to the value of their work,” says Falle. “We’ve had a pay equity plan in place for 15 years, but the Region has been dragging its feet, to put it mildly, in putting that plan into practice.
“In two of the Region’s four long-term care homes, our members are seven years behind in their pay. In the other two, the Region has refused to implement the pay equity plan at all.” The union is currently stating its case before the province’s Pay Equity Tribunal.
CUPE 966 has published a blog by four of its members who work in the long-term care homes at http://dignityandrespect.ca, The blog details their working days and explains some of the issues long-term-care workers face on a daily basis. It will be updated on social networks like Twitter and Facebook, and readers will be able to ask questions and leave comments.
“We want to start a conversation about this, because we think people will be surprised by the types of situations our members face in these facilities,” says Falle. “We think they’ll agree that these women workers are punching way above their weight when it comes to the value of the services they’re providing to our community.”
The long-term care centres serve mainly elderly clients who can no longer live on their own. Their care re¬quires a unique combination of skills and commitment which should be recognized by the Region.
The union has also set up a special web site (http://itsthelaw.ca) to promote the cause of the women workers, which details the facts about their campaign for pay equity.
“We want to move beyond facts and figures with this experiment,” says Falle. “We want the public to see us as real people doing a difficult job under less-than-ideal circumstances.”
For more information, contact:
Mary Jo Falle, President, CUPE 966, 905-502-6599
Pat Daley, CUPE Communications, 416-616-6142