SUDBURY, ON, Oct. 16, 2017 /CNW/ - "A message to our clients: We care about you," is the headline on a leaflet that counselling staff are handing to clients visiting the Sudbury Counselling Centre.
Counselling staff at the centre, members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2020, are not at work today. They're outside the building delivering apologies to their clients.
The 10 counselling staff, all women, are on strike. Working at a charitable non-profit centre is by no means highly paid, but it's not about the money.
"These women are passionate about the work they do. They're invested in their jobs and their clients. They come to work because they care about the clients. Unfortunately, the new management suddenly doesn't feel the same way," said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.
"The employer is demanding concessions around working conditions and a re-write of an employment contract that's been effective for over 30 years. There's been no history of grievances with the employment contract. The employer is attacking these workers for no reason," said Lynne Descary, USW Staff Representative.
"After four meetings with a conciliator, we didn't even get to monetary discussions at the table," said Descary.
While on strike, the counselling staff will continue to offer their children's services, such as the Child Witness Program, for vulnerable children in the community scheduled to appear in court.
Counselling staff offer counselling and psychotherapy, deliver Employee Assistance Programs, partner assault response for women and men, counselling for women experiencing sexual and domestic violence, assistance for male survivors of sexual violence, mental health counselling and more.
Staff want to continue helping the people of Sudbury, as they have done since 1971, including providing programs for the francophone community that are not available anywhere else in the community.
Counselling staff are apologizing to clients and to community partners who refer clients to the centre.
The staff members are asking clients and agency partners to contact management and ask the employer to respect the staff and return to the table with an honest commitment to reach a fair agreement.
The existing collective agreement expired on July 31. Bargaining since August 24, there's been no movement after four conciliation meetings. With a 100% strike mandate, counselling staff were in a legal strike position as of Oct. 14.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information: Marty Warren, USW Ontario and Atlantic Director, 416-243-8792; Lynne Descary, USW Staff Representative, 705-675-2461 x 224, firstname.lastname@example.org; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, email@example.com