Peel CAS strike enters week 9 with CUPE questioning mediator’s neutrality
The union representing striking child protection workers at the Peel Children’s Aid Society (CAS) may be considering binding arbitration to resolve the walkout that has now entered Week 9.
Last week’s attempt to restart contract talks – in what has become a bitter standoff between Peel CAS and Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4914 – failed when the provincially appointed mediator concluded the two sides were not prepared to change their negotiation positions.
CUPE represents about 435 frontline protection workers, administrative staff and other personnel at Peel CAS.
Local Union President Sonia Yung said the union is questioning the mediator’s neutrality after it was suggested last week that the two sides would not be called back to the bargaining table unless CUPE was willing to sign the employer’s last offer.
“This suggests to the union that the Ministry of Labour is no longer facilitating the collective bargaining process through a neutral lens,” Yung said in an email.
Yung said the union would try to express its concerns to the mediator, labour minister and local MPPs as well as consulting with its legal team.
“We will be discussing the option of offering to go to binding arbitration,” she added.
Settlements on workload and job evaluation issues are reportedly the remaining negotiation stumbling blocks.
Overflowing caseloads are hurting the level of attention each case is given and that could put children at risk, the union has argued.
Peel CAS has said its last offer included wage and benefit improvements as well as contract language changes in the area of worker safety and workload.
However, the agency has maintained it is unwilling to settle on any deal that puts operating costs outside its budget.