Homes First staff back to work after four-week strike

TORONTO, March 17, 2013 /CNW/ - Workers at Homes First Society in Toronto returned to work on Sunday, March 17 after ratifying a new three-year contract.

The new collective agreement dates back to the expiry of the previous contract in March 2012. Workers spent close to a month on strike.

"I want to personally congratulate these workers," said OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "They persisted and stood up for what they believed in through weeks of a difficult strike. I also want to thank all of the individuals and other unions who supported them. This is what solidarity is about. And it works."

Key concerns have been addressed in the new contract. There is now language that ensures staff can be given priority consideration for shifts and extra work hours. There is also important new harassment and discrimination language which will protect members from bullying, as well as psychological and sexual harassment in the workplace.

"These members have been unwavering in their determination to make Homes First a better work place," said OPSEU Negotiator, Kathleen Demareski, "With this new contract in place, they can go back to work knowing they've succeeded and their struggle has paid off. What they have done has improved conditions for workers but also for the clients who depend on the services they provide."

"This struggle has served to put the spotlight on services for Toronto's homeless. These people deserve to be considered a priority and provided with decent shelter and living conditions. A large part of fixing this problem starts with respect," said Demareski.

The City of Toronto provides funding to this agency, as does United Way Toronto.


For further information:

Kathleen Demareski, OPSEU Negotiator: 416-523-7810
Emily Visser, OPSEU Communications: 416-557-7936

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