"Kennedy House says it cannot afford wage increases, but non-unionized staff and management received big bonuses the past two Christmases." — Dave Ramphal, OPSEU, Local 361 bargaining team chair
Ajax (28 Jan. 2016) — By demanding that its workers accept 11 years of wage cuts, the board of Kennedy House Youth Services may be facing a labour disruption as early as February 12, says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).
Workers at Kennedy House Youth Services asked to accept five more years of wage cuts
The 17 members of OPSEU/NUPGE Local 361 have rejected management’s latest demand to cut the workers’ real income and benefits. In the past six years the workers have been hit with, when adjusted for inflation, a six per cent wage cut and losses to benefits. The employer's recent proposal would add up to 11 straight years of wage cuts.
“More than a decade of wage cuts shows total contempt for our members,” said Dave Ramphal, bargaining team chair. “Our members do good work to help these young offenders become responsible citizens. Their work helps protect the community. They deserve respect and decent wages.”
High staff turnover indicative of problems in the workplace
Kennedy House is a secure-custody facility for youth sentenced by courts. The OPSEU/NUPGE members work with the offenders to help them return to society and stay law abiding.
“The Kennedy House website claims that the ‘quality of the service’ they provide depends upon having the right team — trained, motivated, and properly paid,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “If that is the test for quality, nobody told that to their negotiating team. Staffing at the Ajax facility has been a revolving door. Most staff have been on the job less than two years.”
Big bonuses go to managers and non-union staff
Kennedy House says it cannot afford wage increases, but non-unionized staff and management received big bonuses the past two Christmases, Ramphal pointed out.
The OPSEU/NUPGE workers represent only a small part of Kennedy House’s overall operations. Increasing OPSEU/NUPGE members’ wages by one per cent would increase Kennedy House’s budget less than a sixth of one per cent.
The two sides are scheduled to meet again February 10 with the assistance of a mediator.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE