Community Living Sarnia workers begin strike countdown, tell employer: "fight the province, not us"



    SARNIA, ON, June 8 /CNW Telbec/ - Workers at Community Living Sarnia are
beginning strike preparations after negotiations for a new collective
agreement broke down yesterday afternoon.
    "We are extremely disappointed that our employer, with whom we worked so
hard to lobby for new provincial funding to improve the incomes of front line
workers, is fighting us at the bargaining table," said Brian Biggers,
president of CUPE 4370, which represents 138 staff at the agency. "Like other
community living employers, they made the case that we are underpaid to an
extent that high turnover and recruitment difficulties are putting supports
for persons with a developmental disability at risk."
    The union has requested a no-board report, which would put it in a legal
strike/lockout position by the last week of June, joining CUPE members at
Community Living Durham North who could also take job action in late June.
CUPE has 46 community living bargaining units in negotiations this year.
    Health and safety is another outstanding issue for Community Living
Sarnia workers.
    "Ensuring a safe environment for workers, supported individuals,
volunteers and visitors is a joint employer and union responsibility," Biggers
said. "That means policies and procedures must be negotiated as part of our
collective agreement if we are to address these issues effectively."
    Other community living associations in the area have settled with their
unions, Biggers said, "so it's difficult to understand what is holding our
employer back. We'll be trying to get them to the table again to settle a fair
collective agreement so we can continue working together to lobby the province
for new resources to strengthen the supports and services we provide to
individuals with a developmental disability."

    The union is planning an information meeting for parents and families of
supported individuals on June 20, 7 p.m. at the Best Western Guildwood in
Sarnia. The next scheduled date for mediation is June 25.




For further information:

For further information: Brian Biggers, President, CUPE 4370, (519)
333-7109; Doreen Beath, CUPE National Representative, (519) 433-1753; Pat
Daley, CUPE Communications, (416) 616-6142

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