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“A settlement is within reach, but we need a willing partner at the bargaining table,” says CUPE Local 5088 President Jennette Surnoskie after members hold strike vote.

PEMBROKE, Ont. – Some of the region’s most vulnerable residents are unnecessarily being put at risk by Community Living Upper Ottawa Valley’s refusal to take collective bargaining seriously, the president of Local 5088 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) warned today.

After talks broke down Monday between the two sides, members of CUPE Local 5088 voted Tuesday to provide their bargaining committee with a strong mandate to take any and all actions deemed necessary by the committee to secure a fair agreement. Key issues include management’s proposal to cut back sick leave far below the standard in the sector. Employees rely on sick leave to get healthy and return to work providing much needed supports.

“Families do not want us caring for their loved ones when we could be subjecting them to illness – the people we support deserve better,” said Jennette Surnoskie, President of CUPE Local 5088. Management has also proposed a six-year collective agreement, including a three-year wage freeze.

“Our members do not want to strike. We want to bargain a settlement that is fair and protects the important services adults with developmental disabilities in the community depend upon,” said Surnoskie.

“A settlement is within reach, but we need to have a willing partner at the bargaining table, something we haven’t had for more than a year.” “The new Executive Director has an opportunity to negotiate a settlement that respects the services that we provide in the community – we are urging him to return to the bargaining table on Monday,” she added.

Staff at the Community Living Upper Ottawa Valley (CLUOV) voted to join CUPE more than two years ago and have been trying to negotiate their first contract ever since.

“Our members understand that the challenges facing the sector are not of CLUOV’s making. If we work together, we can apply pressure on the provincial government to adequately fund Community Living agencies across Ontario,” said Surnoskie.

The Union is calling on CLUOV to return to the bargaining table.

“A lockout or strike is not in anyone’s best interests. We are prepared to be at the bargaining table on Monday, August 26, a date both sides had agreed to meet until CLUOV decided there was no point in continuing,” said Surnoskie.

“We believe that, if CLUOV can negotiate a settlement that respects the services we provide, we can then get on with the important work of helping people live active, full lives in their community.

CUPE Local 5088 represents approximately 80 staff at CLUOV who support more than 150 people with developmental disabilities to participate in their communities and live lives with dignity.


For more information, please contact:

Jennette Surnoskie, President CUPE Local 5088, 613-717-4914

Kevin Wilson, CUPE Communications, 416-821-6641