The union that re­pre­sents all the em­ployees of Valoris for Chil­dren and Adults of Pres­cott-Rus­sell, a re­gio­nal so­cial ser­vices agen­cy, has an­noun­ced it has a strike man­date from its mem­bers.

The On­ta­rio Pu­blic Ser­vice Em­ployees Union Lo­cal 426 (OPSEU) an­noun­ced on March 15 that its mem­bers vo­ted, March 8, by “a strong ma­jo­ri­ty” in fa­vour of strike ac­tion, if the two sides fail to agree on a new contract.

“The last thing we want to do is go on strike,” sta­ted Carl Bris­son, chair­man for OPSEU Lo­cal 426’s bar­gai­ning unit dea­ling with Valoris, in a press re­lease. “But we need to send a ve­ry clear mes­sage. We will stand up for the ser­vices we pro­vide. (…) “The health of our com­mu­ni­ties de­pends on us being able to de­li­ver high-qua­li­ty ser­vices,””

OPSEU re­pre­sents al­most 350 people em­ployed with Valoris Pres­cott-Rus­sell, which pro­vides chil­dren’s aid, men­tal health coun­sel­ling, de­ve­lop­men­tal ser­vices, and ser­vices for vic­tims of do­mes­tic vio­lence among some of its pro­grams and ser­vices.

The cur­rent contract bet­ween Valoris Pres­cott-Rus­sell and OPSEU Lo­cal 426 ends March 31, 2018. Ne­go­tia­tions on a new contract came to a halt on March 5. OPSEU fi­led for conci­lia­tion and then held the March 8 strike vote.

OPSEU sta­ted the outs­tan­ding is­sues in­clude pay equi­ty with si­mi­lar workers for com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice agen­cies in near­by com­mu­ni­ties. They al­so in­clude un­ders­taf­fing, contrac­ting out of ser­vices, and long-term di­sa­bi­li­ty co­ve­rage.

“When a group of OPSEU mem­bers de­li­ver a strong strike vote,” sta­ted War­ren Tho­mas, OPSEU pre­sident, “you know they are se­rious about pro­tec­ting the ser­vices they pro­vide. These mem­bers are stan­ding up for them­selves and for the people who de­pend on them. And they’ve got 150,000 OPSEU mem­bers stan­ding with them.”

Hé­lène Four­nier, di­rec­tor for Valoris Pres­cott-Rus­sell, gua­ran­teed du­ring a Tues­day mor­ning phone in­ter­view that the agen­cy would main­tain pro­gram ser­vices for clients should a strike oc­cur. “We do have a contin­gen­cy plan,” Four­nier said. “But we re­main real­ly confi­dent that we will be able to find a re­so­lu­tion.”

—photo Gregg Chamberlain.

Le Syn­di­cat des em­ployés de la fonc­tion pu­blique de l’On­ta­rio, sec­tion lo­cale 426 (SEFPO), qui re­pré­sente le per­son­nel de Valoris pour en­fants et adultes, a an­non­cé que ses membres ont vo­té par « une forte ma­jo­ri­té » en fa­veur de la grève

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