OPSEU protests man­agers cross­ing picket lines

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - NEWS - TIM MEEKS tmeeks@post­media.com

In a show of sol­i­dar­ity with strik­ing mem­bers of On­tario Pub­lic Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees Union (OPSEU) at Com­mu­nity Liv­ing Camp­bell­ford/Brighton (CLCB), OPSEU Lo­cal 448 hosted a picket Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon at Path­ways to In­de­pen­dence to protest man­agers be­ing sent to cross picket lines.

More than 100 OPSEU mem­bers turned out for the in­for­ma­tion picket while ear­lier in the day an­other picket was hosted by Lo­cal 403 at Com­mu­nity Liv­ing Quinte West on Canal Street in Trenton.

“We con­demn cross­ing picket lines as these man­agers are do­ing. This in­for­ma­tion picket is about en­sur­ing the man­agers at Path­ways to In­de­pen­dence know they aren’t avoid­ing scru­tiny, and that their own em­ploy­ees don’t sup­port their ac­tions,” said OPSEU Lo­cal 316 bar­gain­ing team mem­ber Court­ney Huy­cke. “These man­agers are pro­long­ing the strike and sac­ri­fic­ing qual­ity of care for the peo­ple CLCB sup­ports.”

Nearly 100 OPSEU mem­bers at CLCB have been on strike since March 22. Wages and trans­porta­tion are two key stick­ing points in the ne­go­ti­a­tions, which failed to pro­duce an agree­ment when the par­ties last met March 28. CLCB is de­mand­ing the work­ers ac­cept real wage cuts, and in­sist­ing staff agree to use their own cars as a con­di­tion of em­ploy­ment, which has raised con­cerns of cost, li­a­bil­ity, and health and safety.

“The em­ployer is try­ing to cre­ate di­vi­sions be­tween mem­bers and the peo­ple we care for,” said Huy­cke. “But it isn’t work­ing. The peo­ple we care for sup­port us, and their fam­i­lies do, too. We know this be­cause they have been reach­ing out to us since this strike started.”

OPSEU pres­i­dent War­ren (Smokey) Thomas was out­raged by the news. “No­body goes into de­vel­op­men­tal ser­vices to get rich,” Thomas said.

“It’s a labour of love, and you can’t put a price on love. But you can put a price on food. You can put a price on shoes. You can put a price on gaso­line, and the wear and tear on your car. If these work­ers can’t feed them­selves and their fam­i­lies, and if they can’t pay the rent, then the peo­ple they sup­port won’t re­ceive the ap­pro­pri­ate level of care that they de­serve. “This em­ployer is show­ing a bla­tant dis­re­spect for my mem­bers, and dis­re­gard for their safety as well as that of the peo­ple they sup­port,” Thomas said. “These mem­bers will have the full sup­port of all 130,000 mem­bers of OPSEU, for as long as it takes to make this em­ployer see rea­son.”

New ra­dio ads hit the air­waves April 6 to rally com­mu­nity sup­port for strik­ing union mem­bers at CLCB.

“Peo­ple can see that we just want to get back to work, and it’s the em­ployer who isn’t al­low­ing that to hap­pen,” said Huy­cke. “The ads are aimed at telling sup­port­ers ex­actly how they can show their sup­port to help us put an end to this strike.”

The 30-sec­ond ra­dio ad be­ing fea­tured on sta­tions across Camp­bell­ford, Brighton, and the sur­round­ing area in­vites peo­ple to visit re­spect­for­care­givers.ca to find out how they can sup­port the strik­ers.

TIM MEEKS/THE INTELLIGENCER

More than 100 mem­bers of OPSEU took part in an in­for­ma­tion picket hosted Wed­nes­day by Lo­cal 448 at Path­ways to In­de­pen­dence on Pinnacle Street in Belleville.

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