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News: Participation Lodge and OPSEU Local 235 reach impasse – strike set for 12:01 a.m. Sept. 22

News: Participation Lodge and OPSEU Local 235 reach impasse – strike set for 12:01 a.m. Sept. 22

We the North
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OWEN SOUND – Participation Lodge and OPSEU Local 235 have reached an impasse again at 4 p.m. today. Despite the assistance of a provincial mediator, the employer’s offer remained virtually unchanged. With a strike deadline set for 12:01 a.m. Sat., Sept. 22, it appears that the employer has little desire to resolve the outstanding issues.

“Our members are very concerned about the quality of service that these very vulnerable clients will receive,” said Lynn Easter, OPSEU staff negotiator. “The decision to withdraw services is certainly not an easy one, however, the members feel quite strongly that this employer could improve morale, work co-operatively on scheduling issues, and provide for a fair and reasonable settlement.”  Wages and working conditions continue to be unresolved at the bargaining table.

OPSEU maintains that Participation Lodge is mismanaged and has far too many managers for the number of staff providing direct care services. OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is calling on the Province to do an actual investigation into how much this non-profit organization spends on providing direct care services.

“Elaine Kerr, Executive Director was recently quoted as saying there was ‘about six’ managers or directors when in fact the organizational chart provided to the union clearly identifies eleven managers for approximately 50 staff,” Thomas said.  “Kerr also stated that ‘staff are responsible for their own morale and that a few are creating a bad morale.’ The fact that 90 per cent of the members showed up at both the recent strike vote and final offer vote, and rejected both employer offers by 91 per cent, clearly indicates where the real problems are at Participation Lodge.”

Managers also have an employer-contributed RRSP, while staff do not have any form of pension. The union has confirmed that at least one manager received a bonus for 2011 and, along with another manager, subsequently used an agency vehicle and presumably agency time to go spend it.

The union calls on the employer to return to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair and reasonable collective agreement before the Saturday deadline.

Participation Lodge provides services both in the community and in a rural long-term care facility for people with significant physical care needs and developmental disabilities. The current collective agreement expired March 31, 2011.

For further Information:

Lynne Easter, Negotiator 519-657-8312 or
Andrea McCormack, Staff Representative 519-379-7159