Provincial framework for local negotiations announced
OPSEU has called it a first step toward creating stability for developmental services workers and the people they support. It's a provincial framework for implementing wage increases and for resolving long-term and structural problems in the sector.
Wage increase funds promised by the Ontario Government for frontline workers will begin to flow by June 1, 2015. If local unions and agency employers do not reach agreement by then, the Ministry of Community and Social Services will roll out flat rate increases.
Employers and unions in the sector made recommendations to MCSS on the use of the $180 million allocated. All frontline workers will benefit from the general wage increases. A fifth of the $180 million is earmarked to further help the lowest-paid workers.
These funds are intended to reduce staff turnover and increase continuity of care for people with intellectual disabilities. They are in addition to what locals can negotiate through regular bargaining.
The recommendations accepted by the MCSS include setting up a Developmental Services Advisory Group (DSAG) to research and address compensation for all agency employees, occupational health and safety, and other issues. DSAG must meet before June 1, 2015.
OPSEU has been a leader in pushing the government to respond to the crisis in the chronically-underfunded sector. On the legislative front and in workplaces across Ontario, the union members and leaders have been persistent and organized with their message that significant funds were required immediately just to make up some of the ground lost throughout years of underfunding.
"Local unions will go to their own bargaining tables to build on what we've accomplished so far together," said OPSEU Developmental Services Chair Patti Markland. "We are asking them to hold off on monetary issues until after Feb. 1. And I emphasize that we continue to need strong local bargaining and mobilization."
At a provincial bargaining conference in January, staff representatives, highest-ranking local officers, and bargaining team chairs will receive details of the agreement and resources for applying it on the local level.
OPSEU represents 12,000 developmental services workers. President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said OPSEU locals will hold employers to the agreement and the MCSS will not transfer the funds to agencies for any expenses other than wages.
"Other local issues will be resolved independent of those wage improvements," said Thomas.
Bargaining conference for Developmental Services:
Wednesday, Jan. 21 and Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015
Highest-ranking officers in locals will soon receive call letter with details and registration information.
Conference agenda will include sessions on details of the framework agreement and resources for applying it at the local level.
Key local bargaining demands
The provincial framework on rollout of the $180 million promised to frontline workers for wages does not replace local bargaining. It is in addition to what locals will negotiate in the normal course of local bargaining.
Key issues at local bargaining tables remain:
- Conversion of part-time hours to full-time jobs.
- Same job, same pay. Same rate of pay for people doing the same job, no matter where in Ontario they work.
- Guarantee that WSIB is the benefit of choice for work-related injuries and illnesses.
- Occupational health and safety.
Members stepped up on Dec. 11 and 12
OPSEU members in developmental services workplaces really rocked the days! They were asked to back their leadership and bargaining team during meetings with employers over the rollout of $180 million in wage increase funds. Did they ever!
"I could not be more proud of the members," said OPSEU Developmental Services Chair Patti Markland. "Their support and solidarity was everywhere, and it was crucial to reaching the framework agreement. And now, as we move to local negotiations, they are sure to remain standing strong. They can see how important it is and what we achieve together."
See here for facebook and twitter photos and comments of those solidarity days.
Your 2014 Bargaining Bulletin in authorized for distribution by:
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union
Patti Markland, Chair, Developmental Services Sector