ELORA – CUPE Local 4392, representing developmental service workers with Community Living Guelph Wellington, held two community events last weekend to draw public attention to what union officials are calling a “stalemate” after months of bargaining with their employer.
On Sept. 23 the union offered an afternoon of musical entertainment, children’s crafts and free ice cream at the pavilion in Bissell Park.
The campaign is called “You can’t put people in care first if you put workers last,” explained Local 4392 president Sandra MacDonald.
“We’re trying to get a fair deal for the members and we just wanted to have some community events,” MacDonald told the Advertiser during an interview at the Bissell Park event.
MacDonald said staffing levels are at the heart of the workers’ concerns.
“We’re seeing lots of things happen in the sector right now and with us, in particular, short staffing,” she stated.
MacDonald said staff are unable to leave after their shifts if replacements aren’t available – “They’re forced to stay.”
Workers are also seeking improved wages and benefits, including, sick days for part-time staff “that hopefully will retain and attract more staff into the field,” said MacDonald.
While the union’s 500 workers have been in a legal strike position since July, MacDonald says negotiations are continuing.
“We’re still bargaining. We’re still doing conciliation. And that can still go on for a while.,”she noted.
“We’re confident that Community Living will work with us. But of course, their funding has been frozen for years, too. So they’re kind of in a hard place, too.”
The union also held a community event on Sept. 24 at Woodlawn Road East in Guelph.