CUPE says Peel children’s aid has no interest in ending strike prolonged with high-paid scabs
“CUPE Local 4914 President Sonia Yung is accusing Peel Children’s Aid Society CEO Rav Bains of trying to prolong the current strike by offering “strikebreakers” lucrative compensation and making no effort”
The union representing hundreds of children’s aid workers in Peel is accusing the local agency of trying to prolong the current strike by offering “strikebreakers” lucrative compensation and making no effort to rekindle contract talks.
Peel Children’s Aid Society (CAS) CEO Rav Bains was called out on the carpet in an open letter, penned by CUPE Local 4914 President Sonia Yung and released to the public Wednesday (Sept. 28).
Yung, who speaks for about 435 frontline Peel CAS workers currently on picket lines, said Bains has repeatedly stated in public that the agency is ready and willing to negotiate.
However, she added, the union has never been contacted by Bains or his bargaining team to resume talks.
Yung said she sent an email to Bains almost a week ago inviting the agency to return to talks and the message has remained unanswered.
She also noted Bains and the rest his bargaining team regularly pass her on the picket line on their way into work.
“I haven’t heard from anybody,” she said. “I think the membership is feeling angry and insulted.”
Those feelings are exacerbated by the now-confirmed rumours of expensive salaries and perks being offered to recruit temporary workers during the walkout.
Peel CAS Communications Director Lucie Baistrocchi confirmed Wednesday the compensation incentive being offered to find temporary staff includes a $82.54 hourly wage, reimbursement for travel expenses, accommodation at nearby hotels in Mississauga, a $45 daily meal allowance, a $50 daily stipend, laptop and Wi-Fi cost.
“There are 435 people, who are familiar with the community, with clients, who are willing to work for less than half the wages and none of those incentives,” said Yung. “I find it ironic that the claim is we can’t resume bargaining or we can’t even look at the some the proposals that we tabled because of limited funding and accountability agreements.”
Yung interprets the incentive package for replacement staff as an attempt to drag out the labour disruption.
“It doesn’t make financial sense and so to me, the only idea that I have is this is out of spite now,” she concluded.
Regardless of how and when the labour dispute is resolved, this will leave some deep scars and resentment among employees, she suggested.
“I’m not quite sure why the employer would take action that would result in the 435 members feeling insulted and offended and devalued,” Yung said.
Despite assertions to the contrary, this action sends a message that Peel CAS workers are less valued than the strikebreakers being coaxed to take their place, Yung insisted.
In an email to media, Bains explained the steps are being taken to ensure the agency can continue to provide essential child protection services.
Qualified and experienced workers are needed to keep children in the community safe during the labour strife, Bains added, the agency has reached out to management staff at other children’s aid services for assistance.
“Our offer to other CAS’s is consistent with the practice of the Ontario Public Service for labour disruption, and within the broader public sector procurement directive,” he stated.
He also noted it was the union that walked away from the table and CUPE 4914 needs for contact the mediator if it wants to restart talks.
“Peel CAS is eager to reach an agreement,” Bains insisted.
The union has said the final offer did not address pivotal issues such as capping caseloads or health and safety concerns.
According to Yung the union wants a joint committee to review and discuss the findings and recommendations in a provincial report on workplace safety.
Workers are assaulted and threatened on a daily basis, according to Yung, who wants Peel CAS to acknowledge the risk their employees face.
“It doesn’t cost anything to accept the findings of the worker safety report,” she remarked.