Striking workers to ‘set the record straight’ at counter protest

Campbellford, Ontario – Striking union members at Community Living Campbellford/Brighton (CLCB) plan to leaflet outside a rally by People First Northumberland in Campbellford this morning.

People First, a group that serves as an advisory team to CLCB’s Board of Directors, is planning to protest against members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) who are lawfully picketing outside their workplaces, the union has learned.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas called People First’s plans “misguided.”

“My members don’t want to be on strike. They want to get back to work, and they truly care about the work they do. But, until their employer comes back to the bargaining table – with a fair deal – they’re on the picket line, which they have the right to be on,” said Thomas. “If People First wants to protest something, they should join us in calling out this employer’s blatant disrespect for both workers and the individuals they provide care to.

“Tell Executive Director Nancy Brown to put people first.”

Nearly 100 OPSEU members at CLCB have been on strike since March 22. Wages and transportation are two key sticking points in the negotiations, which failed to produce an agreement when the parties last met March 28. CLCB is demanding that the workers accept real wage cuts, and insisting that staff agree to use their own cars as a condition of employment, which has raised concerns of cost, liability, and health and safety.

“The employer is trying to create divisions between members and the people we care for,” said OPSEU Local 316 bargaining team member Courtney Huycke. “But it isn’t working. The people we care for support us, and their families do, too. We know this because they have been reaching out to us since this strike started.”

“With Equal Pay Day coming up, this strike is a good reminder that folks who work as caregivers, traditionally considered ‘women’s work,’ still have to fight so much harder for basic rights and decent treatment,” said President Thomas. “It’s employers like this one who help maintain the massive gender wage gap in Ontario.”

OPSEU members at CLCB provide support for adults with intellectual disabilities in Campbellford, Brighton, and the surrounding area.

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931