Campbellford, Ontario – Negotiations between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and Community Living Campbellford/Brighton (CLCB) have failed once again to produce a deal that union members are “willing to even dignify with a formal vote,” according to OPSEU staff representative Richard Bradley.
Monday was the second time the two parties had met in an attempt to reach a deal since the strike started March 22. Lasting nearly 15 hours, the negotiations “felt like riding a roller coaster to nowhere,” said OPSEU Local 316 president Shawn Devries. “We did everything we could to find the common ground that would end this strike, but just when we thought we saw a light at the end of the tunnel, the employer blew it out with a series of regressive positions.”
A key sticking point in the negotiations is the employer’s demand requiring staff to use their personal vehicles for work as a mandatory condition of employment, a proposal that has raised significant concerns about liability, costs, and health and safety.
“It’s clear to us from our experience at the bargaining table on Monday that [CLCB Executive Director] Nancy Brown is more concerned about her own power and control issues than the very real support needs of the almost 200 people with intellectual disabilities that CLCB supports,” said Bradley. “She is not putting those people first. But the nearly 100 staff who just want to get back to work do that each and every day.”
“This is clearly an example of a group of dedicated caregivers being taken advantage of because of their commitment to the people they support,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “‘Today’s favours are tomorrow’s duties’ is a message that I’ve heard repeatedly from my members in Local 316.
“Ms. Brown is trying to force my members to subsidize her agency by using their own cars for work, and taking on all the costs associated with doing so,” he said. “I and all 130,000 OPSEU members will stand behind Local 316 for as long as it takes for them to achieve a fair deal.”
OPSEU members at CLCB provide support for adults with intellectual disabilities in Campbellford, Brighton, and the surrounding area. No date is set for further negotiations. The strike continues.
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Richard Bradley, 416-542-8616