Homes First workers on strike; rally at City Hall Feb. 20

TORONTO, Feb. 19, 2013 /CNW/ - Striking Homes First workers and their supporters will rally outside Toronto City Hall on Feb. 20 after 70 staff members of the housing agency walked off the job Monday. Homes First provides support services for the homeless to find permanent housing.

The Wednesday rally is scheduled for noon to 4:00 p.m.

"Morale is great on the picket line even if the weather isn't," said Kathleen Demareski, a negotiator for the workers who are represented by Local 540 of the Ontario Public Services Employees Union. "We do not want to be on strike but regrettably management has chosen not to bargain with us."

The union met with the employer at the Ontario Labour Relations Board on Feb. 14 to discuss the bad faith bargaining complaint it had filed. The employer refused further negotiations to avoid a work stoppage.

Homes First receives more than $6 million in funding from the City of Toronto. The union is calling on city council to demand that Homes First open its books to public scrutiny - which it refuses to do -- and to urge management to get back to the bargaining table.

"The Homes First Society has a horrible track record of bad fiscal management which is why we believe they have no interest in bargaining in good faith," said Demareski. "That's why we need a strong show of support from city council. After all, it's public money we're talking about."

Issues in the dispute include wages, benefits and job security.

Picket lines have been organized outside the main office of Homes First at 90 Shuter Street. Lines will be set up at seven other Homes First locations in the city later this week.


For further information:

Kathleen Demareski
OPSEU Negotiator
Tel: 416-443-8888 ext 2484


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