November 21, 2012
More than 100 employees of Homes First – a City of
Toronto-funded agency that provides assistance to those who seek permanent
housing – could be on the picket line as early as midnight Dec. 5 as contract
negotiations go nowhere in the face of management’s demand for concessions.
The workers, members of OPSEU Local 540, have planned two
information pickets – on Nov. 22 and Nov. 28 – to back their demands for a
contract that respects the value of their services to hundreds of homeless
people in Toronto who struggle to find sustainable accommodation.
In October, members of Local 540 voted 100 per cent in favour of
strike action. A No Board report was filed with the Ministry of Labour on Nov. 6
and mediation dates are set for Dec. 3 and 4.
The two sides are separated by a wall of concessions – 88 in all
– that management is demanding. They include: no seniority for pregnancy /
parental leave; an increase in the hours of work without compensation (amounting
to a 6.5 per cent pay cut); a rollback of vacation leave to 1995 levels, and a
cut in sick leave time by more than 50 per cent.
Problems inside Homes First have been festering for some time.
On a host of fronts management makes it very difficult for the employees to do
their jobs properly and with dignity. Incidents of harassment in the workplace
are common, but rarely does management intervene on the side of the workers when
health and safety risks are demonstrated.
The demand for concessions and the toxic work environment inside
Homes First have left many members of Local 540 asking themselves why the City
of Toronto, which funds the agency, does not take a more forceful role by
directing the board of directors and management at the operation to negotiate a
fair and just contract.
In the face of management’s demand for concessions which impact
the bottom line, many members are demanding that the City itself take a closer
look at how funds are spent at Homes First. They believe the City – and the
agency’s board of directors – have an obligation to get clear answers from
management in light of the serious conditions the workers are facing.
solidarity with Local 540 in their struggle with Homes First at these
22 8:15 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Nov. 28 8:15 – 9:00 a.m.
information pickets outside the head office of Homes First, 90 Shuter St.,
near Queen St. and Jarvis St.