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Last-minute deal averts strike at ACCES Employment

Community Agencies Sector 5
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Toronto – GTA residents seeking work can breathe easier today with the news that 103 staff at ACCES Employment have reached a tentative settlement with their employer. The workers belong to Local 512 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).

“It came down to our people’s grit and determination to get a fair deal – even if it meant walking out or being locked out,” said bargaining team chair Sydney Lovell. “The solidarity was awesome. It’s never easy to negotiate a collective agreement, but when the workers are with you heart and soul, that’s an invaluable bargaining chip.”

In fact, while last-minute bargaining was taking place, ACCES employees were immediately outside conducting an information picket. A day of mediation on September 5 had proved unsuccessful, while two days of conciliation in June had similarly failed to reach an agreement. Both sides would have been in a legal strike or lockout position as of 12:01 this morning.

“Until yesterday, we had seen virtually no movement from the employer on some counterproductive concessions, notably, eliminating long-term disability benefits after five years,” said Lovell. “There was no way we could allow that – and the 91 per cent strike vote the bargaining team got from workers certainly underscored that resistance.”

Details of the agreement will not be released until Tuesday, September 19, when a ratification vote will take place at OPSEU’s Wellesley satellite office at 6:30 p.m.

“It’s always preferable to get a deal early on in the game,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU. “No one wants to go through the anxiety of waiting till the last moment. But when it happens, and the workers are successful, I can’t help feeling even more elated. Because it shows they were ready to put everything on the line to achieve fairness for themselves and their families – not to mention the workers who’ll come after them.

“I’m extremely proud of the workers with Local 512 and wish them all the best for the vote next Tuesday.”

ACCES Employment is funded by the governments of Ontario and Canada, as well as United Way Toronto and York Region. OPSEU members work as employment counsellors, job developers, and administrative staff at five locations across the GTA.

For more information: Sydney Lovell, 647-963-2868