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Tentative deal for support workers at Community Living Essex County


A tentative agreement has been reached between Community Living Essex County and its 600 developmental support workers and administration staff.

Late last week, CUPE 3137 announced that the primary issue of support staff being forced to work past their 12-hour shift has been dealt with.

“We did reach an agreement with the employer. We will have a ratification vote on (Friday) March 8,” said CUPE 3131 president Paul Brennan. “We are confident that it spoke with our major concern.”

A press release issued just one day prior to the tentative agreement was reached, quoted Brennan as saying that Community Living Essex County (CLEC) has to make the jobs more attractive so they can recruit and retain skilled workers.

CLEC is short by as many as 60 workers right now and at times those who work a 12-hour shift were required to work long hours if their relief was not available.

“Paying us for our time is the bare minimum but that alone won’t do anything to stop the practice from happening,” noted Brennan in the press release. They are insisting that being stuck on a shift is mandatory. That takes away the workers’ rights and our ability to have lives and be there for our families.”

Brennan told the River Town Times that if a deal had not been reached that CUPE 3131 was set to hit the picket line.

“We would have walked for sure. We had a tough time getting our employer to realize the ‘stuck at work.’”

While he could not go into full details of the deal, Brennan did say that there were other issues that were addressed including benefits. The union will vote on the agreement on Friday and it will be brought to the CLEC board tonight (March 6.)

“It’s excellent news for us and our agency and our employees,” said CLEC executive director Karen Bolger.

Recently, CLEC announced that the provincial government had frozen funding which comes from the Ministry of Children and Community Services. Bolger has said in the past that the funding does not keep up with their costs and that 83.5 per cent of the budget goes to salaries and benefits.

As far as what would have happened if the support workers had gone on strike, Bolger said that a contingency plan was in place.

“We are thrilled that neither the people we support or our workers have to go to that,” she said. “We have some work to settle this.”

Community Living Essex County is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1961 and currently provides support and services to 700 individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families.

Tentative deal for support workers at Community Living Essex County

By Fred Groves

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