On October 15, 2015, OPSEU became the sole bargaining agent for the 240 frontline staff at two landmark frontline social services agencies in Toronto: the former Community Resource Connections of Toronto, represented by the Service Employees International Union; and Fred Victor, represented by OPSEU.
On April 1, 2015, the two organizations had officially merged to become Fred Victor. The Ontario Labour Relations Board conducted a merger vote to allow the workers to choose which union would represent them at Fred Victor.
Ken Mitchell, President of OPSEU Local 509, described the result as a huge step towards securing a more promising future for the workers at Fred Victor. “By voting to join OPSEU, they have given themselves a voice that will democratically respond to the ongoing transformations in the mental health and frontline social services sector. OPSEU will provide the resources and tools they need to unite across the agency – and across the table from their employer.”
In these changing times of increasing pressures on service providers, government austerity agendas and the threat of privatization, the new Local 509 members add to the growing number of Ontario frontline social service workers who have placed their confidence in the experienced and effective hands of OPSEU to protect their best interests and safeguard the services they offer their clients.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU, said these workers’ instinct to put their trust in OPSEU was well founded. “I extend a warm welcome to our new members at Fred Victor and pledge the union’s full support in helping them continue to improve the lives of some of our province’s most vulnerable residents.”