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PEEL A strike by 200 workers at the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) of Peel could be a long and bitter one after mediation talks earlier this week failed to break the impasse and Peel CCAC executive director Cathy Szabo again refused the unions offer to submit unresolved issues to binding arbitration to end the two-week strike. Local 2842 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) called the strike on May 29th to fight employee health benefits concessions and their employers attack on hours of work after the employer refused binding arbitration as a solution.

At a time of crisis in health and home care in Ontario, Peel CCAC management is preventing Peel residents from receiving quality home care services, says Trudy Mulder-Hall, bargaining committee spokesperson. Instead of assisting with our emergency room crisis, Szabo is increasing backlogs in already strained emergency rooms.

Hours of work and benefit take-aways are the main outstanding issues. Management proposals would create chaos in our hours of work, making it impossible to juggle stressful jobs and still make room for family responsibilities, adds Mulder-Hall. The employers proposals, including mandatory 12-hour shifts, would be a major setback to staff retention and recruitment. The current contract already provides flexibility in setting schedules and provides staffing of Peel CCAC on a 24 hours per day, 7 days per week basis. The union offered a joint problem solving process respecting hours of work, scheduling and recruitment of staff, says Paul Jordison, CUPE National Representative. This process would have allowed a mutually agreed-to facilitator to assist the parties. If that process failed, unresolved issues would be sent to binding arbitration. The employer rejected this solution and so the strike continues.

Its sad that we find ourselves in this situation after we offered binding arbitration as a solution before the strike began, adds Mulder-Hall. Now after two weeks on strike and three more days of mediation, we find the employer has not changed its position at all and still refuses our offer of binding arbitration. Under binding arbitration, the strike would end immediately, and unresolved issues would be submitted to a third neutral party for settlement, with both sides making their arguments and then living with the outcome.

The last thing we want is to be on strike we care deeply about the community and the clients we serve, says Louise Watson, CUPE 2842 vice-president and chair of the negotiating committee. We need a joint problem solving process to reestablish trust.

For further information, please contact:
Trudy Mulder-Hall, Bargaining Committee, CUPE Local 2842
905-452-2842 (cell)
Paul Jordison, CUPE National Rep, Peel Area Office
Nancy Saxton, Communication Cttee., CUPE Local 2842
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications, Ontario Regional Office