BELLEVILLE, Ont. – Workers at Hastings Children’s Aid Society offered to continue bargaining for a new contract last month but the employer shut the door, says their union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“We invited the employer back to the bargaining table in December, but they refused,” says Barb Williams, Representative for CUPE 2197, the union representing workers at Hastings Children’s Aid. “They said they’ll see us in conciliation. Let’s hope they come ready to negotiate a fair deal, because that’s what we’ll be doing.”
Williams says members of CUPE 2197 are upset at the employer’s attempts to worsen working conditions. The members – including case workers, support staff, legal support staff, administrative assistants and child care workers – have told the union they are ready to stand up for the services they deliver and won’t tolerate worsening working conditions that could force workers to leave the sector.
“If I was the employer, I would sit up and take notice,” Williams says.
“There’s a real disconnect between senior management and the reality of our jobs on the front line,” says Kristen McCoy, President of CUPE 2197. “We face concessions and major changes to scheduling that just aren’t necessary. Management is messing with our working conditions to solve problems that can be solved in other ways.”
Workers are worried because when the economy goes down, the need for social services like children and family support goes up. Now is the time to strengthen, not weaken, the working conditions of social service workers, says McCoy.
“Our current collective agreement already allows for flexibility of hours so child protection workers can meet their clients’ needs in the evening or whenever needed,” says McCoy. “The solution is already in place, so there is no need to change things and undermine working conditions.”
McCoy says the union wants to continue to negotiate for a new collective agreement. The two sides meet in conciliation this Friday, January 30.
Kristen McCoy, President, CUPE 2197, 613.962.0854
Barb Williams, CUPE Representative, cell: 613.539.2489
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell: 613.878.1431