(Simcoe County) - Unable to reach a
new collective agreement with Kinark Child and Family Services
despite six months of trying, Ontario Public Service Employees
Union Local 355 will head back to the bargaining table on Monday,
April 30 with the help of a Ministry of Labour conciliator.
Local 355 requested
conciliation because the employer refused to discuss monetary
improvements for the 85 workers in 14 locations throughout Simcoe
and Muskoka. Similar employers in the Child Treatment Sector have
agreed this year to combinations of wage increases, lump sum
bonuses, mileage and vacation improvements, and others.
“The bargaining team has
put forward a reasonable position on behalf of these mental health
workers who provide professional services to vulnerable children and
youth and their families,” says OPSEU president Warren (Smokey)
Thomas. “Frontline workers provide the stability and safety the
children and youth need. It’s not credible that Kinark can’t match
or approximate what other agencies with the same funding sources are
Local 355 president
Shannon Van Dyk says Kinark argues the province’s wage freeze
applies to the workers, which it doesn’t. And, she says, the company
raised salaries for their high earners, contrary to the wage
“In 2011, 18 Kinark managers and
directors earned more than $100,000, up from 16 in 2010. One of them
is at the bargaining table telling us Kinark can’t negotiate
‘compensation increases’ for our members, who earn $39,000 to
$57,000 per year,” she says.
The union bargaining committee will
ask the members for a strike mandate if conciliation fails.
Local 355 members will hold an
information picket starting at 9 a.m., Friday, April 27 in front of
the Kinark office, 34 Simcoe St., Barrie.