'We haven’t received a wage increase in eight years and we’re fed up.' - Laura Webster.
Guelph (27 Sept. 2010) - Members of Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) have voted 88% to walk off the job if necessary in a first contract dispute with Guelph Independent Living (GIL).
“Our members have spoken forcefully and they’re saying the status quo doesn’t work anymore,” says Laura Webster, president of OPSEU Local 203. “We haven’t received a wage increase in eight years and we’re fed up with being the lowest paid workers compared to others doing similar work in the region.”
OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the strong strike vote means members are not intimidated by management’s hard line.
“Our members are fighting for a first contract and management will be playing hardball. That strategy (by management) won’t work in the face of the powerful mandate our members have delivered to their negotiating team,” he notes.
To rally public support the union is organizing a community information meeting in Guelph on Oct. 7 at 400 Speedvale Ave. W., starting at 1 p.m.
GIL staff work with people with physical disabilities and the elderly. They voted to join the Ontario Public Service Employees Union in October 2009 and have been in negotiations with management since January 2010. Bargaining was disrupted in June when management abruptly fired a member of the local executive, a move described by the union as an act of intimidation.
Negotiations are scheduled to resume Oct. 19.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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