Strike continues as new talks between Peel CAS and CUPE fizzle
Negotiations between Peel Children’s Aid Society (CAS) and the union representing about 435 striking workers made some progress Tuesday before fizzling into another breakdown in talks.
“CUPE Local 4914 President Sonia Yung says an end to the three-week-old Peel Children’s Aid Society (CAS) strike is within reach if the employer can “move past the idea that negotiation and dictating are one and the same.”
Both sides reported settlement on issues that have fuelled an increasingly bitter walkout by frontline child protection personnel, administrative staff and support workers for the last three weeks.
Talks between negotiators for the agency and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4914, aided by a provincial mediator, lasted about 12 hours and showed promise.
“We addressed a number of outstanding issues, including two issues that the union had identified as their priority, health and safety, which was resolved,” according to Peel CAS CEO Rav Bains.
In a late night news release, Bains said the agency agreed to many language changes to the collective agreement as requested by the union.
He added Peel CAS was open to exploring alternative approaches to dealing with the remaining unresolved issues as long as costs did not further impede the agency’s ability to provide child protection services within budget constraints.
CUPE said talks fell apart after the employer refused to consider amended proposals to address workloads and job evaluations.
“We substantially modified our original proposals to significantly minimize, if not completely eliminate the financial impact on the employer,” CUPE 4914 President Sonia Yung said in a news release.
According to Yung, Peel CAS flatly refused the proposals and gave the union five minutes to accept the last offer or have it taken off the table.
She urged Peel CAS to “move past the idea that negotiation and dictating are one and the same” if the agency wants to reach a settlement Yung believes is within reach.
Bains reiterated the agency’s final offer, prior to the strike, included wage increases and improvements to benefits including mileage, cell phone and family leave in each year of the three year contract that matched the union’s proposal.
This was the first meeting between the two sides since the strike began Sept. 19. There are currently no further talks scheduled.
A contingency plan has been implemented to continue operations during the strike.
Management staff is assuming the child protection and investigation roles usually handled by employees now on strike – prioritizing calls to respond to urgent cases first.