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September 28, 2011 permalink
CAS workers in Peterborough are threatening to strike.
Children's aid society workers could strike Oct. 17
Local children's aid workers could be on strike by Oct. 17 if a settlement isn't reached soon, the union president said.
Jennifer Smith, president the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 334, said the two sides are meeting again this week but the union has asked the conciliator to file a no-board report, effective for Friday, which would lead to a 17-day countdown to a strike.
Negotiations could continue within the 17-day countdown, which would end on Oct. 17 at 12:01 a.m., she said.
The roughly 130 people in the union local include frontline workers, child-protection workers and accountants, she said.
Nobody wants to strike, Smith said, but the Kawartha Haliburton Children's Aid Society is an "oppressive" work environment and employees are often working into the early-morning hours to meet expectations.
"Our biggest issue is wellness in the workplace…. You can't have an unhealthy work environment and not have it impact on your work with other people," Smith said.
Hugh Nicholson, the agency's executive director, said he's hopeful a settlement can be reached through this week's talks.
The workers, who voted 94% in favour of a strike if a settlement can't be reached, haven't taken any work action so far.
"And we're hopeful that will continue and there'll be no disruption for child-protection services," Nicholson said.
The two sides last met Aug. 23 and 24.
Union members have been without a new contract since March 2010.
The union has previously said the management style is "fear-driven," leading to a high turnover rate of staff.
Source: Peterborough Examiner
Addendum: Two strikes are also looming in Toronto.
"Do your part to improve supports for at-risk children," child welfare staff on verge of job action tell Toronto CAS
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 29, 2011) - The well-being of vulnerable children and families in crisis is a priority for the more than 700 child welfare workers with the Children's Aid Society of Toronto (CAST). This is why they have used recent contract talks to find ways to better protect at-risk children by improving the quality of supports and services.
However, contract talks broke down earlier this week, when the Children's Aid Society of Toronto negotiating team was a no show at a scheduled day-long, labour-ministry facilitated bargaining meeting.
Today, the Toronto CAS staff - members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 2316 are calling on their employer to "put at-risk children first and do your part to improve the quality of supports by getting back to the negotiating table. Work to achieve a new contract settlement and avoid service disruption," said Aubrey Gonsalves, a family service worker at the agency and president of CUPE 2316.
In the last few weeks over a dozen CAS employers including Toronto Catholic and Durham children's aid societies in the GTA have advocated along with CUPE for enhanced provincial funding and succeeded in negotiating new contract settlements. The Children's Aid Society of Toronto has been part of that advocacy work but, has so far refused to negotiate constructively to reach a settlement.
Child welfare is mandated under legislation. CASs receive their funding through the Ministry of Children and Youth (MCYS). The ministry has announced a new funding formula for the sector and many agencies are concerned they will receive less provincial monies for the services they are mandated to deliver.
"Service disruptions have been averted through creative problem solving at the negotiations table. But, that requires that both parties - the union and the employer show up to bargain. Other agencies have led the way and shown it can be done. They've been able to improve the quality of supports by ensuring there are adequate staffing levels put in place," says Gonsalves. "Why is the Children's Aid Society of Toronto pushing for a service disruption when a settlement is completely within reach?"
CUPE 2316 members voted over 97 per cent in support of strike action. The strike deadline is set for 12:01 a.m. Monday, October 3.
Source: Your Benzinga
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
Social workers urge GTA Jewish community to help avoid service disruption
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 27, 2011) - The front line social service workers at Jewish Family & Child Services (JF&CS) - a multi-disciplinary agency providing child welfare and family counselling to Jewish families in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), are appealing directly to the community they support in an effort to avert a service disruption.
In the last few weeks over a dozen employers at agencies like JF&CS including Toronto Catholic and Durham Children's Aid Societies in the GTA have advocated for enhanced provincial funding and succeeded in negotiating new contract settlements, averting service disruptions while improving the quality of supports by dealing with caseload and staffing levels.
A comparison of the online annual reports of JF&CS and Toronto's Catholic Children's Aid Society (an agency which also services a specific faith community) clearly shows that while the Catholic agency receives nearly all its funding from the province, JF&CS gets less than half of its funding from ministry sources. Instead, JF&CS is forced to rely on grants and donations from Jewish and other community agencies and individuals to deliver services.
"We believe that we all have a vested interest in the protection of at-risk children and youth, the well-being of families and to ensure services for the Jewish community are funded fairly. That's why we are alerting the community to the funding inequity at our agency. Staff is being called on to absorb the cost of underfunding. None of this is fair," says Laila Clein Friedman a community worker and the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 265 representing JF&CS social workers, counsellors, community workers, child welfare and administrative staff.
Other similar agencies have worked together with staff to advocate for adequate provincial funding to ensure the needed level of services and supports are available to the communities they support.
"Our agency administration should be working with us – the staff at JF&CS - to ensure that the agency gets its fair share of provincial funding. Jewish families in crisis deserve nothing less. Staff should not be shouldering the costs of funding shortfalls. We are calling on JF&CS to work with us to ensure that the vital services that we provide to the community are maintained without disruption," says Clein Friedman. "Why is JF&CS pushing for a service disruption when a settlement is completely within reach? Other agencies and staff have led the way and shown that it can be done."
Addendum: The Toronto CAS dispute reached a tentative settlement on October 3.