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OPSEU VP to speak at Central West info picket

Oakville – Workers with Central West Specialized Developmental Services (CWSDS) will be on the picket lines Monday as they await the intervention of a government-appointed conciliator. Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida will be the guest speaker.

Talks with the employer have been at a standstill since members massively rejected an offer in June of an across-the-board wage increase of 10 cents an hour in each of the two years of the contact.

Some 340 workers at CWSDS belong to OPSEU Local 249. They support individuals with developmental disabilities who require intensive behavioural programs, interventions, and supports. Workers include day program staff, residential counsellors, clinical professionals, and therapists.

“What we’re seeing here is a massive disconnect with reality on the part of the employer and a flagrant lack of respect for employees who give their all for their clients,” said Sue Walker, president of Local 249. “An offer of 10 cents an hour is no offer at all: it’s a slap in the face.”

Beyond wages, CWSDS staff have brought a number of other concerns to the bargaining table, including chronic understaffing that requires some staff to work double shifts, as well as modest improvements to certain benefits.

“There are now four HR managers and a so-called HR recruiter,” said Walker. “But we still can’t recruit or retain frontline staff because of the miserable working conditions and a toxic workplace environment. We have over 30 vacant frontline positions, putting intolerable stress on existing staff.

“I’m hoping the presence of a conciliator will finally convince the employer to negotiate in good faith and get serious about treating employees with the dignity and respect these professionals deserve. If management want to keep staff, they absolutely need to change their attitude.”

Almeida said he wholeheartedly supported the aims of the information picket and Local 249’s demands. “These members work extremely hard in frequently stressful, physically demanding, and sometimes dangerous circumstances. The picket allows them to share their stories with the public.

“It’s also an opportunity for workers to tell their employer to get serious about bargaining in good faith. Because these workers are dead serious about getting a contact that reflects their professionalism and the value of their work. They simply won’t settle for anything less.”

For more information: Sue Walker, 289-260-5915

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