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One Kids Place professionals vote overwhelmingly for strike mandate

OPSEU Kids Matter / SEFPO Nos enfants comptent

North Bay – Some 73 professionals represented by OPSEU/SEFPO at One Kids Place have delivered a convincing strike mandate to its bargaining team. In all, 97 per cent voted in favour of strike action, if needed.

“A strong strike vote hands the bargaining team a powerful tool,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “It tells management that members are solidly behind their team, even if it means a strike. It’s a clear sign the employer is on the wrong track.”

Professional staff at One Kids Place (OKP) have been without a contract since March 31, 2021. OPSEU/SEFPO Regional Vice President Tara Maszczakiewicz says most matters have been settled with the exception of the employer’s attempt to impose a new model of working hours.

“OKP employees have long been successfully flexing hours to meet client needs,” said Maszczakiewicz. “Now the employer wants to impose a casual-worker model, where hours can change from day to day, week to week, with limited ability to flex hours.

“Most of our members are primary caregivers,” Maszczakiewicz added. “The employer’s model would cause upheaval to members’ lives and would affect services to the children they care for. This is not acceptable and we’ll stand our ground on this.”

OKP provides children with rehabilitative health care services in eight principal areas, including occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and autism services. Staff are held in high esteem by clients for their professionalism, compassion and commitment.

“These experienced professionals care deeply for the children they look after and their community. They’re passionate about their work,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “All they’re asking for is some small leeway to look after their own families as well, just as they’ve been doing for years. Overturning the apple cart now makes no sense. It’s unfair to staff and the children they care for.”

Thomas underscored the disservice management is trying to do to the children who depend on One Kids Place. Altering working conditions is a double-edged sword.

“When these members flex their hours, 90 per cent of the time it’s to accommodate clients’ families. If rigid hours are imposed, staff will leave when their hours are up. How does that help the child who needs help at 6 a.m. or 10 p.m.?

“Bottom line? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Back off this senseless demand. Don’t deprive kids of the services they rely on because of a wrong-headed power grab.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; OPSEUCommunications@opseu.org