THUNDER BAY Employees of North of Superior Programs, members of Local 3253 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), are set to walk off the job just after midnight tonight (12:01 a.m., June 26th), after management failed to improve a four-year contract offer providing no wage increases for the social service and mental health workers.
We tried our best to reach an agreement, but management has put us in a position where we have no choice but to call a strike, says CUPE National Representative Dan Pike. The workers have made significant sacrifices in the past, being forced to take 5 days a year of unpaid leave, or a 2% annual wage cut. Factoring in inflation and the zero per cent wage increases on the table, the workers have lost much of their purchasing power.
The 36 workers offer mental health, addiction counselling and integrated services for children in communities all along the north shore of Lake Superior, from Nipigon to Manitouwadge, including Geraldton, Longlac and Nakina.
North of Superior Programs is governed by a Board of Directors made up of local community representatives. Funding comes from the Ontario ministry of Community and Social Services and the ministry of Health. The workers are calling on the community to contact elected officials and urge them to get involved and end this dispute.
A strike was the last thing we wanted, says Diane Atkinson, CUPE 3253 spokesperson. But we must defend the services we provide and the dignity of our members.
For further information, please contact:
Dan Pike, CUPE National Rep. - 807-345-1731 - 613-293-3535 cell
Diane Atkinson, CUPE 3253 spokesperson - 807-229-7933
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications - 416-292-3999