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Oshawa – The Ministry of Labour has issued a “no-board” report regarding negotiations between the Durham Children’s Aid Society (CAS) and its workers, who are represented by CUPE Local 3223. This triggers a deadline of October 26th at 12:01 a.m. for legal strike or lockout.

“We have a number of outstanding issues to deal with,” says Mary Anne Lesniewski, president of CUPE Local 3223, “but without a doubt workload is the biggest issue on the table. The employer’s refusal to address our workload concerns most definitely puts children at risk. The pressure on front-line staff is huge, and the employer is attempting to stretch these workers even further with the introduction of an additional evening shift.”

“There have been two strikes at Durham CAS in the last decade, most recently in 1999. Our employer seems determined to push things in that direction again,” says Lesniewski. “At the same time that many CAS workplaces across the province have agreed to workload “caps” or limits, Durham CAS is pushing expanded hours and duties that will do nothing but create chaos in a system that is already stretched to the max. This is not in the public interest.”

The parties have been negotiating since February, 2002, and a further session is scheduled for next Wednesday, October 23rd with a government-appointed mediator. “We urge Durham CAS to use the next mediation session wisely - to genuinely address the union’s workload concerns,” says Lesniewski. “It is not too late to avoid a work stoppage if the employer shows commitment to finding a resolution.”

Local 3223 represents approximately 230 workers at Durham CAS, including full-time and part-time child protection workers, child and youth workers, support and maintenance staff, and public health nurses. CUPE represents 180,000 workers across Ontario, many of whom work for social service agencies, municipalities, hospitals, school boards, and universities.


For further information:
Mary Anne Lesniewski, president, CUPE Local 3223
(905)-767-8929 (cell)
Linda Newman, CUPE National Representative
(905) 706-9786 (cell)
Andrea Addario, CUPE Communications
(416) 292-3999, or (416) 738-4329 (cell)