Employer request for ‘no board’ threatens services at Avenue II in Thunder Bay

“Issuing an ultimatum is not negotiating. There’s nothing constructive about a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude to bargaining a collective agreement." — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President

Thunder Bay (11 Sept. 2017) — Some 100 employees with Avenue II Community Program Services in Thunder Bay could be locked out as early as September 27 following the latest move by their employer in collective bargaining. The workers, who support individuals with developmental disabilities, have been without a contract since March 31, 2016.

Employer issues "take-it-or-leave it" final offer instead of negotiating

Silvana Cacciatore, President of Local 738 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) and chair of its bargaining team, said the employer had short-circuited the process by requesting a “no board” report, which will set the clock ticking down to a possible labour disruption.

“On August 24, after just 5 hours with the conciliator, the employer presented us with their final offer — and a request for a no-board,” she said. “In essence, they created a like-it-or-lump-it situation, where they’ve shut the door on further talks until last-ditch mediation on September 25.”

OPSEU/NUPGE members back bargaining mandate of wage improvements, fighting schedule changes

Workers are seeking meaningful wage improvements. They are also resisting a pilot project that would significantly impact members’ schedules. The employer also is demanding that all outstanding grievances be withdrawn.

Last June, union members voted 96 per cent in favour of giving their team a mandate to call a strike, if necessary.

Ultimatums unhelpful for bargaining

“I’m deeply disappointed that the employer just walked away — from us and from the people we care for and support — .because we’re all in it for one reason: to ensure the best possible quality of life for our clients," said Cacciatore.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President, described the employer’s actions as “unhelpful.”

“Issuing an ultimatum is not negotiating. There’s nothing constructive about a ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ attitude to bargaining a collective agreement. This employer needs to take a good, hard look at what refusing to come to the table could mean: dedicated employees without work, clients without services, and employer-employee relations seriously compromised," said Thomas.

“Our bargaining team is ready to get back to the table any time,” Thomas continued. “Let’s put the brinkmanship aside and get to work hammering out a fair deal.”

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE