VALORIS WORKERS’ UNION DELIVERS STRIKE WARNING
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.”
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