The employees, some of whom had worked in the two homes for troubled youth for more than 10 years, were members of CUPE Local 4782, until the Department of Community Services (DCS) pulled its funding to the agency with little or no warning, back in June 2014.
CUPE National Representative Grant Dart says, “Through no fault of their own, these employees received no severance, no retroactive pay from the last two rounds of bargaining, no wage increases which were negotiated and owing to them and no vacation pay.”
Dart says the union knows with certainty that the employer received retroactive pay for each employee, ranging from $2,400 and up to more than $8,000 for at least two employees. That money was never given to them.
“But it gets worse,” explains Dart. “It turns out that the contributions they – and the employer – had supposedly been making to an RRSP for at least three years have also somehow vanished”
Dart says some of the workers had been paying as much as $100 a month into the RRSP. Their employer had been taking deductions off their pay, while supposedly contributing an additional 5% of its own into the pension plan.
Dart says the union has had no luck trying to get a meeting with Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard to try and address the injustice. He says a senior bureaucrat at DCS, Alexandra Smith, basically told him she couldn't assist because the department provided funding with the hope it would go to the employees.
Dart says the former Executive Director of Harmony House, Rory Digout, is nowhere to be found. She took over the agency in 2008 from her father, Peter Digout, who opened the two homes for troubled teens in 1995.
Says Dart, “We are looking at all avenues to try and get this resolved and get these employees their money. We are hoping to proceed to arbitration, but we’re not even sure who will be at the other end of the table should we be able to do so.”