Hastings Children's Aid workers push bargaining, employer pushes the limit

    BELLEVILLE, ON, Jan. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - Workers at Hastings Children's Aid
Society offered to continue bargaining for a new contract last month but the
employer shut the door, says their union, the Canadian Union of Public
Employees (CUPE).
    "We invited the employer back to the bargaining table in December, but
they refused," says Barb Williams, Representative for CUPE 2197, the union
representing workers at Hastings Children's Aid. "They said they'll see us in
conciliation. Let's hope they come ready to negotiate a fair deal, because
that's what we'll be doing."
    Williams says members of CUPE 2197 are upset at the employer's attempts
to worsen working conditions. The members - including case workers, support
staff, legal support staff, administrative assistants and child care workers -
have told the union they are ready to stand up for the services they deliver
and won't tolerate worsening working conditions that could force workers to
leave the sector.
    "If I was the employer, I would sit up and take notice," Williams says.
    "There's a real disconnect between senior management and the reality of
our jobs on the front line," says Kristen McCoy, President of CUPE 2197. "We
face concessions and major changes to scheduling that just aren't necessary.
Management is messing with our working conditions to solve problems that can
be solved in other ways."
    Workers are worried because when the economy goes down, the need for
social services like children and family support goes up. Now is the time to
strengthen, not weaken, the working conditions of social service workers, says
    "Our current collective agreement already allows for flexibility of hours
so child protection workers can meet their clients' needs in the evening or
whenever needed," says McCoy. "The solution is already in place, so there is
no need to change things and undermine working conditions."
    McCoy says the union wants to continue to negotiate for a new collective
agreement. The two sides meet in conciliation this Friday, January 30.

For further information:

For further information: Kristen McCoy, President, CUPE 2197, (613)
962-0854; Barb Williams, CUPE Representative, cell: (613) 539-2489; David
Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell: (613) 878-1431

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