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Kennedy House wage cut demand could lead to job action: OPSEU

AJAX – By demanding that its workers accept 11 years of wage cuts, the board of Kennedy House Youth Services may provoke a labour disruption as early as February 12.

The 17 members of OPSEU Local 361 have rejected management’s latest demand to cut the workers’ real income and benefits.  Adjusted for inflation, in the past six years the workers were hit with a six per cent wage cut and losses to benefits. The new employer proposal would add up to 11 straight years of wage cuts.

“More than a decade of wage cuts shows total contempt for our members,” said Dave Ramphal, bargaining team chair.  “Our members do good work to help these young offenders become responsible citizens.  Their work helps protect the community.  They deserve respect and decent wages.”

Kennedy House is a secure custody facility for youth sentenced by courts. The OPSEU members work with the offenders to help them return to society and stay law-abiding.

“The Kennedy House website claims that the ‘quality of the service’ they provide depends upon having the right team – trained, motivated, and properly paid,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “If that is the test for quality, nobody told that to their negotiating team. Staffing at the Ajax facility has been a revolving door. Most staff have been on the job less than two years.”

Kennedy House says it cannot afford wage increases, but non-unionized staff and management received big bonuses the past two Christmases, Ramphal pointed out.

The OPSEU workers only represent a small part of Kennedy House’s overall operations. Increasing Local 361 members’ wages by one per cent would increase Kennedy House’s budget less than a sixth of one per cent.

The two sides are scheduled to meet again February 10 with the assistance of a mediator.

For more information:
Staff Representative Rick Janson