"Both sides should understand clearly, we are prepared to throw the full resources of OPSEU/NUPGE behind our members if Care Partners forces us to resort to job action. That's not our preferred option but one we're willing to take if this standstill continues much longer." — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President.
St. Catharines (30 Jan. 2015) — More than 40 employees of Care Partners in Niagara Haldimand protested outside the offices of Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) on January 24 in a bid to draw public attention to contract talks that have ground to a standstill.
OPSEU/NUPGE home care members back bargaining proposals with a strong strike mandate
The workers, members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), are frustrated in their bid to negotiate a first contract with Care Partners, a for-profit community home care agency. The employees have delivered a 94 per cent strike mandate to their bargaining team last month, unless an agreement can be reached with Care Partners.
"Our members are upset for a host of reasons, but primarily because this employer displays almost no respect toward us," said Chris Frail, Chair of the workers' bargaining team. "They expect us to work up to 55 hours without proper compensation, and we have no means by which to appeal unfair workplace decisions by Care Partners."
"We're angry and we're not prepared to put up with this treatment for much longer. One result of management's treatment of its employees is the high rate of staff turnover, which adversely affects our clients. They should not be the victims of management's anti-labour position," said Frail.
The Care Partners workers were joined at the information picket by other union activists representing the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Unifor, postal workers and teachers. New Democrat MPP Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) also attended.
Management showing little interest in bargaining with workers
The members at Care Partners voted overwhelmingly to join OPSEU/NUPGE more than 18 months ago. But at the bargaining table the employer has exhibited little interest in negotiating a deal.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said the arrogance displayed by management at the bargaining table is all-too familiar in bargaining a first contract. He said his union would stand firmly behind the workers if they elect to walk off the job.
"Both sides should understand clearly, we are prepared to throw the full resources of OPSEU/NUPGE behind our members if Care Partners forces us to resort to job action. That's not our preferred option but one we're willing to take if this standstill continues much longer."
The two sides last met on December. 15. No further talks are currently scheduled.
Care Partners deliver nursing services, including oncology, dialysis, and pediatric, wound and diabetic care.
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