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​New Path workers give thumbs-up to deal

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Barrie – With 97 per cent voting in favour, the 86 therapists, counsellors, and child and youth workers at New Path Youth and Family Services have overwhelmingly ratified a tentative settlement reached with the employer on July 13. The agreement came just minutes before workers would have been in a legal strike or lockout situation.

Workers had been without a contract since March 31. Workers had been seeking a modest wage hike to help keep up with inflation. However, the employer offered a $700 gift card and refused to budge during negotiations.

Bargaining team chair Scott Stratton explained that a lump sum payment – whether as a gift card or cash – is not the same as a pay increase. “When you increase salaries by $700, we keep earning that $700 every year,” he said. “If we had taken a one-time lump sum payment, we’d have lost $14,000 over the next 20 years.”

The three-year offer hikes wages by 1.5 per cent in the first year, two per cent in the second year, and 1.5 per cent in the third year. “While 1.5 per cent is pretty close to $700,” said Stratton, “next year we’ll get 2 per cent more of our current salary and the 1.5 per cent combined. That’s the miracle of compound interest.”

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said he was extremely proud of New Path members.

“Workers refused to cave in to stonewalling and intimidation tactics. When the employer saw that workers were determined to get a deal that respected their professionalism and dedication to their work, management came back to the table at the 11th hour.

“My warm congratulations to New Path workers and thanks to bargaining team members and OPSEU staff.”

For more information: Greg McVeigh, OPSEU staff representative, 705-238-0511