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Homes First staff ratify new agreement


Toronto – Frontline shelter workers at the Homes First Society have ratified a three-year collective agreement.

In voting on June 6, members of Local 540 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union voted 100 per cent in favour of the deal. The new contract includes the creation of a new jointly-funded pension plan, a commitment to increased transparency and open communications around business decisions, and wage improvements for workers.

"The process of bargaining this contract showed a new direction with the employer," said Kareen Marshall, chair of the union bargaining team. "Throughout this process both sides worked hard to build a stronger working relationship, and the benefits of this were evident at the table. The team wishes to thank all members of Local 540 for their support, which was key to reaching this agreement."

The wage improvements include an increase of 0.5 per cent in 2015, two per cent in 2016 and 1.5 per cent in 2017.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas applauded the creation of the new pension plan for shelter staff.

"This is breakthrough bargaining," he said. "To negotiate a new pension plan in this day and age takes determination and creativity, and I want to give my warmest congratulations to the OPSEU bargaining team.  Homes First staff provide wonderful support every day to some of the most vulnerable in our society, and this pension plan is important recognition of that work."

Homes First Society operates three shelters and 13 housing sites that house more than 550 residents, including seniors, families and single adults. Shelter workers provide much-needed supports, programs, and the stable foundation of a home they can rely on to some of the most marginalized people in the Greater Toronto Area. Through this critical foundation, they work to break the cycle of homelessness and help residents living in these buildings improve their quality of life.

For more information: Jeff Weston, Staff Representative, OPSEU, 416-795-7602