OPSEU/NUPGE members hold information picket today to back demands for new contract at Homes First.
Toronto (23 Nov. 2012) - More than 100 employees of Homes First – a City of Toronto-funded agency that provides assistance to those who seek permanent housing – could be on the picket line as early as midnight December 5 as contract negotiations go nowhere in the face of management’s demand for concessions.
The workers, members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), have planned two information pickets – on November 22 and November 28 – to back demands for a contract that respects the value of the services they provide to hundreds of homeless people in Toronto who struggle to find sustainable accommodation.
In October, members of Local 540 voted 100 per cent in favour of strike action. A No Board report was filed with the Ministry of Labour on November 6 and mediation dates are set for December 3 and 4.
The two sides are separated by a wall of concessions – 88 in all – that management is demanding. They include: no seniority for pregnancy / parental leave; an increase in the hours of work without compensation (amounting to a 6.5 per cent pay cut); a rollback of vacation leave to 1995 levels, and a cut in sick leave time by more than 50 per cent.
Problems inside Homes First have been festering for some time. On a host of fronts management makes it very difficult for the employees to do their jobs properly and with dignity. Incidents of harassment in the workplace are common, but rarely does management intervene on the side of the workers when health and safety risks are demonstrated.
The demand for concessions and the toxic work environment inside Homes First have left many members asking themselves why the City of Toronto, which funds the agency, does not take a more forceful role by directing the board of directors and management at the operation to negotiate a fair and just contract.
In the face of management’s demand for concessions which impact the bottom line, many members are demanding that the City itself take a closer look at how funds are spent at Homes First. They believe the City – and the agency’s board of directors – have an obligation to get clear answers from management in light of the serious conditions the workers are facing.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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