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TEMISKAMING A strike at the District of Temiskaming Social Services Administration Board Ontario Works is set to begin at 12:01 a.m., Wednesday, February 21st, if a settlement cannot be reached between the employer and Local 4357 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 20 social service workers. These women and men ensure welfare services and support to communities in the District, including New Liskeard and Kirkland Lake, and communities between Latchford and the Quebec border.

We are doing everything we can to reach a settlement, says Cheryl Kallaste, Local 4357 spokesperson. But this employer is making it very difficult by refusing to honour the existing salary grid, slashing benefits, and implementing a 60-hour work week before overtime, says Cheryl Kallaste. The employer applied for conciliation even before meeting Local 4357 to bargain, and set in motion the countdown towards a strike or lockout deadline after our first meeting.

Because this is a newly organized Local, and a first collective agreement, it looks like the employer is deliberately punishing employees who worked on the organizing drive and favoured unionization, says Denis Rg0069mbald, CUPE National Representative. Before talking to us, the employer hired a well-known anti-union lawyer from Toronto, Robert Budd, with a track record of prolonged and bitter strikes in Toronto and other communities.

Local 4357 is calling on members of the public to contact their local politicians and ask them to start negotiating in good faith with the social service workers. The District of Temiskaming Social Services Administration Board is made up of local politicians from the various communities in the District of Temiskaming.

Members of Local 4357 voted 100% in favour of strike action if a settlement cannot be reached.

Were not asking for the moon, says Cheryl Kallaste. We just want a fair contract that stops the erosion of our working conditions and protects the integrity of the services we provide.

For further information, please contact:
Denis Rg0069mbald, CUPE National Representative
(705) 264-1269

Cheryl Kallaste, CUPE Local 4357
External Communication Cttee.
(705) 647-9324, 12:15 p.m.-12:45 p.m. daily

Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications
(416) 292-3999