Workers from Community Living Thunder Bay (Local 740) and Avenue 11 Community Program Services (Local 738) voted 96 and 94 percent, respectively, in favour of strike action if the employer refuses to offer a fair contract at the bargaining table.
The employer wants a claw back in benefits for full-time workers; no benefits at all for part-time workers, and most importantly, a wage cut for everyone.
The employer calls it a wage freeze but with inevitable increases to the cost of living a freeze would leave these members farther behind.
"There are 41 Developmental Services OPSEU units that have filed for conciliation and Local 740 and Local 738 are leading the way," said President Warren (Smokey) Thomas while he rallied the troops at the strike meetings this week.
Thunder Bay developmental services are seriously under-funded. Workers are struggling with heavy workloads and difficult shifts. Many work two jobs as they are only able to secure part-time work with any single employer.
Failing a fair settlement, on September 24 at 12:01 a.m. over 300 Developmental Services workers will be forced off the job.
Bargaining will resume with a conciliator Sept 17 and Sept 20 for Local 740 and Sept 19 and 23 for Local 738.
Both bargaining units have been working without a contract for 17 months.