OPSEU members at Oxford CMHA vote for strike

OXFORD COUNTY, ON, June 14, 2012 /CNW/ - Members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 133 at Canadian Mental Health Association Oxford County Branch have rejected the employer's offer for a new collective agreement and have voted 97 per cent in favour of strike action.

Tischa Forster, President of Local 133, said her members are determined to get a contract that respects the vital work they do in communities across the county.

"Our members are the second-lowest paid CMHA employees in the province," said Forster. "The employer's offer doesn't come close to the industry norms for mental health professionals performing this work."

The employer's "comprehensive global offer" consisted of no wage increase for two years, followed by 2 per cent in the third and fourth year. There was also a slight increase to mileage rates and health spending. Forster said that although the members appreciate the economic realities, the offer doesn't come close to levelling the playing field with other CMHAs. "We are miles behind our colleagues across Ontario," Forster said. "Our members are grossly undervalued considering that the services they provide are critical to this area."

Forster said the union will be looking to sit down again with the employer in hopes of coming to an agreement.

"The last thing our dedicated, professional members want to do is take any job action that will affect the care and services we provide to the most vulnerable people in our communities," Forster said. "However, to attract and keep qualified professionals we must have a contract that is at least the equal of other CMHA employees. Our members are ready to fight for that, because that is the only way to protect services in Oxford County."

The Canadian Mental Health Association Oxford County Branch provides community care to clients who suffer severe and chronic mental illness, court support and diversion programs, addiction support, care for elderly persons and those with developmental disabilities that also suffer from mental health issues, as well as operate a 24-hour county-wide crisis line.


For further information:

Tischa Forster - 519-777-5969
Carol Warner, OPSEU Staff Representative - 519-319-1736

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