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January 25 2011: OPSEU charges NCYS with bad faith bargaining on eve of splashy re-launch

We the North
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January 25, 2011

(THOROLD) – Workers at Niagara Children and Youth Services have filed a complaint with Ontario Labour Relations Board, charging that the employer is negotiating in bad faith.

The complaint to the OLRB was tabled last week, only days before the NCYS is scheduled to host a pricey media launch that will announce it has changed its name to Pathstone Mental Health.

“Management has somehow come up with the money to go through a re-branding process but they plead poverty when it comes to negotiating a fair contract with their own employees,” said Pati Habermann, negotiator for OPSEU Local 214 representing 108 workers at NCYS.

“Worse still, they are trying to circumvent the normal bargaining process by communicating directly with our members which is an effort to bargain in bad faith and outside of what’s allowable under the Ontario Labour Relations Act.”

Local 214’s contract with NCYS expired 10 months ago, on March 31, 2010. Several bargaining sessions since then have failed to produce any meaningful progress toward a new contract.

In its complaint to the OLRB, Local 214 charges that the employer has communicated directly with union members to gain their agreement to work at walk-in clinics that the employer was planning to open, as well as its plan to merge with another agency. Both steps are clearly outside what is provided for under the current collective agreement, said Leisa Burberry, chair of the union’s bargaining team.

In a Dec. 24 memo to employees, management also advised that it was operating an $8,000 deficit as a result of its plan to re-brand itself as Pathstone Mental Health and, in part, because of its contract negotiations with Local 214.

“All of this has caused unnecessary stress for our members, who are justifiably concerned about their job security. They see this as another attempt by the employer to undermine the collective bargaining process,” said Burberry.

Both sides are next scheduled to meet in bargaining on Jan. 27.

For more information:

Pati Habermann OPSEU Negotiator cell: 905-328-7134