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Participation Lodge workers give union strong strike mandate


Employees of Participation Lodge of Grey-Bruce, who have been working without a contract since Mar. 31, 2011, have voted 91 per cent in favour of strike action.

“The fact that more than 90 per cent of the employees handed their bargaining team such an overwhelming strike mandate speaks strongly to the frustration they are experiencing with an employer who doesn’t seem prepared to get down to work and negotiate a contract,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union which represents staff members at Participation Lodge.

Negotiations reached an impasse on June 30. The outstanding issues include working conditions and compensation

Participation Lodge provides supports for persons with developmental disabilities in a long term care facility as well as assisted living supports within the community.

The employer’s current position includes a number of concessions as well as zero per cent wage increase for the duration of the contract. The employer insists it has no money for wage increases.

The union points out that Participation Lodge is a top heavy organization with 11 managers supervising 50 staff members. In addition, approximately 55 per cent of compensation costs are earmarked for 50 unionized staff members, leaving 45 per cent of the remaining salary dollars going to those 11 managers.

Working conditions at Participation Lodge are also plagued by extremely low morale, unfavourable scheduling, and several examples of nepotism and favouritism.  The result has left employees feeling undervalued and disrespected.

Recent settlements in both the developmental services sector as well as in the long term care sector have resulted in wage increases at a number of agencies and workers at Participation Lodge are demanding nothing less.

Workers at Participation Lodge are asking that that the employer value their work and recognize the value and importance of their contribution to the community. They are dedicated to servicing the needs of the people and families they support and they are only asking for respect and fairness.

By its overwhelmingly strong strike mandate, OPSEU members have sent a strong message to management that they are prepared to do whatever it takes to support their bargaining team and reach a resolution to this negotiating impasse.

The parties are scheduled to return the bargaining table with a conciliation officer on Monday July 23.

More information: please contact:

Andrea McCormack,

OPSEU Staff Representative