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Ituna: Group home workers in Ituna have spent the last six months on a picket line because their employer Deer Park Villa refuses to bargain meaningful seniority language or accept the assistance of a government conciliator to settle the dispute.

The employers need for power and control is at the heart of this dispute, says staff representative Aina Kagis. As today marks the sixth month of the strike, its time the employer dealt with that reality and returned to the bargaining table.

CUPE sent a letter to the employer yesterday, requesting the resumption of negotiations with the assistance of a provincial conciliator.

The two sides have had only one negotiating meeting over the last six months. It resulted in a final offer from the employer, which CUPE 4552 members overwhelmingly rejected on November 19.

Deer Park Villa, a community-based organization, operates three group homes and an activity centre in Ituna for adults with mental and physical challenges. Nearly all of its funding comes from the provincial government.

The 27 workers, members of CUPE Local 4552, walked off the job June 3 after the employer refused to bargain language that would ensure the fair application of seniority in its hiring practices.

Since the strike began, only one group home has been operating; most of the residents have been sent to other facilities and communities.

We need to conclude a fair settlement so the strikers can return to work, the Deer Park residents can return home and the community can return to normal.

Last week, board member Sharon Schaefer told CTV news the board could decide to close Deer Park Villa down and transfer residents to other facilities.

CUPE has filed an unfair labour practice charge against the employer for her comments.

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For more information:
Cyndi at 795-7755 or CUPE staff rep Aina Kagis at 536-8226.