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Dogged effort yields first tentative contract

Newmarket – Two and a half years after joining the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and 19 months after bargaining began, some 200 developmental services workers with Community Living Newmarket/Aurora District have achieved a first tentative contract.

The deal, reached after a marathon 18 hours of bargaining, provides for a slate of significant improvements to wages, benefits and working conditions, including:

  • a $1-per-hour wage increase for all job classifications
  • an additional 65-cent-an-hour increase for the lowest-paid job classifications
  • clearly defined job classifications and pay rates
  • one extra vacation day per year, as well as the August civic holiday off with pay
  • job security, seniority, and layoff and recall language
  • a comprehensive grievance procedure 
  • a mileage increase of three cents per kilometre
  • employer-paid cleaning of member vehicles when used for work

OPSEU Local 386 President Kelly Holmes is also chair of the bargaining team. She said the long months spent in negotiations since November 2014 were well worth the eventual outcome.

“This is a very positive tentative contract. It was a tough struggle, but we had the solid backing of our members – and that made all the difference. They didn’t falter once, even giving us a 94 per cent strike mandate. That sent a strong message to management that we were there to get things done.”

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas had followed the progress of talks closely and said reaching a tentative agreement was exciting news.

“When I awoke this morning to learn these extremely hardworking and dedicated people had reached a tentative deal, it renewed my faith in the power of the collective bargaining process. Anything and everything is possible when two sides work towards a common goal.

“Getting a solid first contract in place will be good for the workers, good for the employer and good for clients,” Thomas continued. “Congratulations to the bargaining team for their perseverance.”

Details of the ratification vote are forthcoming.

For more information: Kelly Holmes, 905-441-6171