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Espanola – After more than two months on strike, Espanola Community Living front line staff are hopeful that a new round of bargaining beginning on Tuesday, July 19, will end in a new contract settlement so that quality services for developmentally-disabled individuals can resume.

Community Living Espanola front line workers, who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2462, have been on strike since May 14. Key issues in the dispute are scheduling, wages, workload and new staff recruitment. The agency provides vocational services, community integration and independent living and residential support for individuals with developmental disabilities.

For the duration of the strike, services for the disabled individuals that the agency supports have been provided using scab labour. As a result, services have declined and those in care are regressing in their behaviours. Parents and families of clients have appealed for the strike to end.

Throughout the strike, the front line staff have been very concerned about the poor quality of services being provided by the scabs hired by the agency. CUPE 2462 members truly care about the well-being of the individuals they provide support to, and it has been difficult for them watching their behaviours regress.

We want parents and families to know we are listening to their concerns and we are attempting to end the strike. We believe we are very close to a settlement. But to date, the management negotiating team has refused to take all the concessions off the table,” says Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) national representative Michelle Loiselle.

An employer demand on scheduling and overtime that would erode the collective agreement protections is a key sticking point. Of the more than 25 CUPE locals in the community living sector in bargaining this year, this agency is the only one that tabled massive concessions.

This employer needs to understand that this one concession is keeping us from reaching a settlement. Other employers in the sector have shown respect for their front line staff. They’ve recognized that developmental service staff are among the lowest paid social service workers in the province, and provided modest wage increases with no concessions.

Why can’t this employer show the same kind of respect for its staff? Why are they expecting workers to shoulder the cost of provincial underfunding?” Asks Loiselle.

For more information, contact:

Michelle Loiselle CUPE National Representative (705) 561-9076
Stella Yeadon CUPE Communications (416) 578-8774