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Waterloo-Wellington-Dufferin CMHA workers to hold Nov. 15 rallies to support negotiations

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The union representing almost 300 workers at the Canadian Mental Health Association – Waterloo- Wellington-Dufferin (CMHA-WWD) will hold information rallies on Saturday, Nov. 15, in support of their bid to negotiate a first contract.

DATE: Saturday, November 15

LOCATIONS: Mount Forest CMHA office: 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Orangeville CMHA office: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Guelph, Delhi Street CMHA office: 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.
Kitchener, King St. Speaker’s Corner: 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.

OPSEU members have been in negotiations with the CMHA-WWD for almost one year trying to reach a contract. The employer is now forcing a “final offer” vote on employees which the bargaining team is recommending they turn down.

Ruth Linnen, bargaining team chair for OPSEU Local 291, said the main issues are wage harmonization, job security and proper job classification.

“When CMHA-WWD merged with the Grand River branch staff who were doing the same work were, in some case, being paid significantly less,” Linnen said. “This should have been addressed immediately, but instead the employer proposes to take the length of a four-year contract to equalize these wages, and even then not all the staff will be paid the same as their colleagues doing the same work. To make matters worse the employer is treating this wage correction as a general wage increase, saying that employees don’t deserve any raise beyond that.”

Linnen also said that the employer refuses to agree to any contract language that would restrict the outsourcing of work. “This creates an air of distrust and fear in the workplace, which severely hampers the ability of our members to properly do their jobs.”

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, said that the CMHA-WWD must ensure there is a level playing field for all staff.

“These workers provide vital services for those with addictions, mental health issues and developmental disabilities,” he said. “They deserve the same caring, compassionate treatment from their employer as they provide to the clients under their care.”

On Nov. 7, OPSEU filed a “No Board” report with the Ministry of Labour, which starts a countdown for possible strike action later this month. The employer has formally requested that the MOL hold a vote on its final offer on either Nov 19 or 21. The bargaining team has recommended the offer be rejected.

“There is nothing in this offer that will provide job security, proper classification of jobs or provide any real improvements in the workplace,” Linnen said. “We want the employer to return to the bargaining table and start addressing the issues that are the most important to our members.”

CMHA-WWD has locations in Cambridge, Kitchener, Guelph, Fergus, Orangeville and Mount Forest.

For more information:

Ruth Linnen, OPSEU Local 291 Bargaining Team Chair
Warren (Smokey) Thomas 1-800-268-7376
Sabrina DeGirolamo, OPSEU Negotiator 1-800-268-7376 x5202