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April 6, 2011

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Strike votes begin for CUPE’s community social services

BURNABY— CUPE members in the community social services sector will begin taking strike votes throughout B.C. tomorrow (April 7), a process made inevitable by the last proposal tabled by the Community Social Services Employers Association on March 30.

All nine member unions in the Community Social Services Bargaining Association walked away from the bargaining table last week when CSSEA proposed concessions on bumping and promotions/transfers and failed to include real employment security. All proposals from both parties have reverted back to the December 15, 2010 package, meaning that all 12 of the employer’s concessions are still on the table and all of the CSSBA monetary articles are also now back on the table.

“If any sector deserves significant improvements in this round of bargaining, it is community social services,” says CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill. “These workers have continued to lag behind each and every other unionized sector. Even if we’re able to make minor concessions, we continue to fall farther and farther behind in each round of bargaining. Now is the time to stand up and take action. We must have a fair deal.”

CUPE members have already received notice of polls which will specify the dates of strike votes for each local. The strike votes are expected to conclude at the end of April.

“We expect to receive a strong strike mandate, not only from CUPE members but from all unionized CSS workers throughout B.C.,” says CUPE Servicing representative Cheryl Colborne. “There was nothing in the employer’s latest offer that we could have taken to our members for ratification. CUPE will not bargain concessions.”

CUPE, which represents approximately 2,500 workers of the 17,300-plus in B.C.'s community social services sector, is the second largest union for social services in B.C.

CUPE members in this sector work in group homes, shelters and supported housing, sexual assault centres and victims' services, transition houses, child care centres and programs that provide counseling, rehabilitation, employment training, outreach, advocacy and referral services as well as crisis lines and information services.

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