Espanola – Buoyed by tens of thousands of dollars in financial support they received from delegates attending the annual Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario convention last week, Espanola community living workers are facing their third week on strike with renewed optimism.
“The financial support we received from other CUPE members will go a long way in helping our local union stay strong on the picket line. While our goal is a negotiated settlement that addresses our scheduling and staff retention issues, we now realize that our agency administration will not starve us back to work,” says Shawna Dubreuil, CUPE 2462 spokesperson.
On Thursday, June 2, the CUPE 2462 members will be joined on their picket line by several dozen colourful paper doll cut-outs symbolic of the widespread financial support and solidarity they have received from CUPE’s 220,000 members in Ontario.
Scheduling, wages and the future of developmental services, are the key issues in the labour dispute. Because the agency is unable to keep pace with new staff recruitment, workers are often forced to work three shifts with only a six-hour break. This hurts workers and compromises the quality of services to people with developmental disabilities and their families, says Dubreuil.
Although the Espanola administration maintains the agency is facing financial hardship, scabs, who are now replacing striking front line staff and high-priced security, have been hired.
“What’s becoming clearer is that this employer is prepared to spend the money it would take to settle the strike on scabs and strong-arm security. Clearly, this casts doubt on the motive of the agency administration, which is not respectful of workers or concerned about the quality of services vulnerable people with a developmental disability are now getting from scab workers. This is shameful,” says CUPE national representative Michelle Loiselle.
*The CUPE 2462 picket line is located at the administrative offices of Community Living Espanola, 345 Centre Street, Espanola, Ontario.
For more information, please contact:
Michelle Loiselle, CUPE National Representative - (705) 562-1390
Shawna Dubreuil, CUPE 2462 Spokesperson - (705) 862-0076
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications - (416) 578-8774