At the time of putting together this little letter, my wife and the other workers at the Fort Frances and District Association for Community Living, have been out on the picket for 105 days.
This is far too long, and as far as the level of client service is concerned, it is not business as usual! Funnily enough, no-one seems to dispute this, but also no one seems prepared to do anything about it.
It seems that no talks have been scheduled, no meeting dates set, nothing in the wind at all. It also seems that the issues have not been publicized properly by either side. A letter printed in last week’s “Times” bemoans this fact. Basically, the issues could not be simpler.
1. Wages. A starting person at the association (casual) will earn approx. $9.00 per/hr. A study frequently quoted, and allegedly paid for by a group of “Associations” suggests that community living workers are paid 25% lower than other workers doing similar work.
2. Pension. There is NONE! Absolutely nothing to look forward to retirement with, other than CPP.
3. Respect. From management certainly, but also from other residents of this community. Let’s face it, most of us would not undertake to do this very demanding work for any price. But right here in Fort Frances, our friends and neighbours are taking it right on the chin.
It seems that the District Association board of managers have not met since the strike began, a state of affairs showing clearly the esteem in which the workers are currently held. A position that also clearly demonstrates the “board” have abdicated any sense of responsibility to which they have been entrusted.
So there it is, pretty straightforward I’d say. I wouldn’t work for those wages and benefits, or put up with this inertia. My wife however, has always felt the job to have been of great satisfaction, regardless of the inequalities.
The workers at our “Association” have cared for and even loved the clients, for little or no appreciation of any kind.
To management I say, shelf your ego’s and get on with it. Now that the Provincial government has allocated funding, there is no moral reason for delaying negotiations further!
To the workers I say, hang in there, but be prepared for a reasonable compromise.
To the “Board” I say, do your job, or do the honourable thing and resign.