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Guelph Independent Living staff vote 88 per cent in favour of strike action

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(GUELPH ) – Members of OPSEU local 203 have voted 88 per cent in favour of walking off the job if negotiations on a first contract with Guelph Independent Living fail to reach an agreement.

“Our members have spoken forcefully and they’re saying the status quo doesn’t work anymore,” said Laura Webster, president of the local which represents about 75 workers. “We haven’t received a wage increase in eight years and they’re fed up with being the lowest paid workers compared to others doing similar work in the region.”

OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas said the strong strike vote means members aren’t likely to knuckle under to management’s hard line.

“Our members are fighting for a first contract and management will be playing hardball. That strategy won’t work in the face of the powerful mandate our members have delivered to their negotiating team,” said Thomas.

To rally public support the union is organizing a community information meeting in Guelph on October 7 at 400 Speedvale Ave. W., starting at 1 p.m.

GIL staff work with people with physical disabilities and the elderly. They voted to join the Ontario Public Service Employees Union in October, 2009, and have been in negotiations with management since January, 2010.  Bargaining was disrupted in June when management abruptly fired a member of the local executive, a move described by the union as an act of intimidation. 

Negotiations are scheduled to resume Oct. 19.