Toronto – In a solid show of confidence in the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), workers at Sistering – which helps homeless, low-income, and underhoused women – have voted overwhelmingly to become the latest members of the 130,000‑strong union.
All 60 non-management staff at the agency – including frontline support, kitchen staff, and clerical workers – are now unionized. Fully half of the workers are relief staff who are on call and currently have no benefits.
Amy Clements, chair of OPSEU’s Community Agencies Division, said the workers at Sistering had spoken loudly and clearly. “Having gotten to know these extraordinary women, I’m convinced we’ll enjoy a very collaborative and effective relationship and bring about greater justice in their workplace.”
One of the primary concerns workers had, Clements continued, was an increasing and troubling pattern of top-down corporate decisions. “They wanted to have some input into choices made that had a very direct impact on their working lives,” she said. “OPSEU will give them that much-needed voice.”
“Sistering enjoys a very fine reputation in the community for the services it provides women in difficult circumstances,” noted OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “And the key to that success is undoubtedly the compassion and strength that clients encounter in the agency’s workers. Without the empathy that staff bring to their work, Sistering could not have the immensely positive impact that it does on the thousands of women it serves every year.”
Thomas went on to say it was about time women who advocated so hard for marginalized women could now advocate for themselves.
“They’ve been reaching out a helping hand for three decades – and now they’ve reached out to OPSEU. We couldn’t be more proud to respond and to count these hardworking and dedicated women among our members.”
Sistering is a multi-service agency for at-risk, socially isolated women in Toronto who are homeless or precariously housed. Sistering supports women with substance use and mental health issues, women who have experienced violence, and immigrant and refugee women, among others.
For more information: Amy Clements, 289-387-4680