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York University day care centre uses COVID-19 to screen unfair bargaining: OPSEU

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Toronto – OPSEU is demanding York University Cooperative Daycare Centre management stop their deceitful bargaining tactics during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The all-female childcare staff at the daycare centre has been working under an expired collective agreement since April 30, 2015. The employer has issued a no-board request – without the customary notice to the union – leading to a possible lockout on May 8. Workers have been given notice of temporary layoff, effective April 20. Staff were also informed that their benefits would be cut as of April 30.

“This is as sleazy as you can get – abusing these workers for your own financial gain during a pandemic, no less,” said Thomas. “This employer is using COVID-19 as a smokescreen. They had several opportunities over recent years to discuss and bargain fairly, and they choose now to prey on innocent women whose work has already been affected by this crisis?”

The childcare workers at York University Cooperative Daycare Centre have been barred from working due to the State of Emergency declared in Ontario last month. The layoff notice given to them would normally mean they qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB); however, a lockout stemming from the no-board report could deprive these workers of this benefit.

“The behaviour from York University Cooperative Daycare Centre’s management is despicable,” said Thomas. “The lives of these workers and their families have already been disrupted by work stoppages, and now the employer is rubbing salt in their wounds.”

Prior to the layoff notice being given, the daycare centre management forced staff to spend their vacation and sick credits in order to receive payment, which is a direct violation of their collective agreement.  The union has tried to resolve the dispute but has been repeatedly rebuffed by Executive Director Mabel Davis. Davis has a history of disregarding the collective agreement. She indicated that the President of the Board of Directors would contact OPSEU, but that never happened.  Instead Davis is relying on a high-priced lawyer who appears to be calling the shots.

“Just what we need during the worst health crisis of our generation, a crew of Toronto lawyers costing thousands of dollars and causing misery to a small staff just trying to do their jobs,” said Thomas. “We will not let these hard-working women be taken advantage of. The work they do is invaluable, and they deserve to be treated fairly.”

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