(Thunder Bay) More than four hundred Developmental Services workers in Thunder Bay reached a last-minute settlement in negotiations with Community Living Thunder Bay (CLTB) and Avenue ll Community Program Services on Friday evening, narrowly averting a 12:01 a.m. strike deadline on Sunday, September 25.
“We have sent a strong message to employers at Developmental Services agencies across the province that a fair deal for workers is necessary and possible,” said OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “I want to commend the dedication and support that members in Thunder Bay gave their bargaining teams. That solidarity was essential to the negotiation of these two tentative contracts.”
Key issues in negotiations were wages and improvements for part-time workers. OPSEU’s bargaining team recommends that their members vote in favour of the new tentative agreements.
“At CLTB we are dedicated to the clients we serve,” said Kyle Pearson, Bargaining Chair, OPSEU Local 740,”We are all deeply relieved that we are able to continue to provide the quality services and care that our community depends on.”
“I am happy that the workers at Avenue II are able to continue to serve our clients without disruption,” said Silvana Cacciatore-Roy, President of OPSEU Local 738. “We have waited a very long time for a contract.”
Central bargaining talks have broken off at the Developmental Services Provincial Discussion Table (DSPDT). This has resulted in the need to bargain each agreement from scratch at the local level, and has contributed to the fact that 46 additional Developmental Services units across Ontario have filed for conciliation.
Many workers have now been without a contract for as many as 17 months, and five of these units have taken strike votes.
Ontario’s Developmental Services are seriously under-funded. Workers are struggling with heavy workloads and difficult shifts, and the majority of employees only have part-time work. Adequate sector funding is vital to maintaining access to quality programs for some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
OPSEU Developmental Services workers held an information picket at the Ottawa office of Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community and Social Services, on the morning of Friday September 23 to bring attention to the sector’s funding crisis as the Thunder Bay strike deadline approached.
There are more than 8,000 OPSEU members working in developmental services. Providing professional care to people with developmental disabilities, their work includes providing life skills and other training, support with basic personal tasks and administering medications. Support is provided in community residences and in clients’ homes.