On Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, the union workers at Something Special Children’s Centre (SSCC) were locked out at the end of the work day.
The workers reported being locked out after refusing to have their health benefits stripped as part of their union’s negotiations with the child care facility. However, according to the Board of Directors with SSCC, the union — CUPE Local 3625 — forced the lock out when it announced on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019 it would be commencing strike action on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019.
“In response to this threat and to ensure the ability to provide reliable and safe childcare to its families, SSCC initiated a lockout of Union workers effective at the close of business on Friday 1 November 2019,” the SSCC Board of Directors said in a press release issued on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019.
According to the press release, the negotiations regarding a new collective agreement between SSCC and the CUPE Local 3625 have actually been ongoing since 2017. The Board of Directors said they have been consistently bargaining on three main points over the last 21 months:
- A guaranteed wage for workers with annual increases,
- A change in shift length to 8 hours for compliance with Ministry of Education regulations, and;
- The payout of unused sick time to employees.
“Our focus throughout negotiations has been to secure an agreement that provides long-term stability for both our workers and the Centre in the face of tremendous uncertainty with the current provincial government,” said SSCC lead negotiator Bryan Elliott. “Making necessary changes to hours of work and sick time accruals is essential to achieving that goal.”
The Board of Directors said that both the union workers and SSCC have been in a legal strike/lockout positions since Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, and that SSCC has “continued to negotiate in good faith with the Union during this time.” The Board of Directors said that, after exchanging final proposals during the week of October 27, it became “clear that the Union would not accept proposed payout of the accrued sick bank.” According to SSCC, the Union stated in a letter to SSCC that “CUPE has a bargaining policy that they won’t bargain concessions.”
“SSCC has responded to the strike threat with a lockout of unionized workers in order to ensure its ability to provide quality childcare to its families. During the lockout, SSCC will continue to operate with nonunionized staff at 10 Chapman Street and has also arranged opportunities for care with partner childcare centers around Kingston for families who wish not to cross the picket line,” the Board of Directors said in the press release.
“Families have been provided with detailed information on this labour action and directions for how they will continue to receive services for their children,” they said. “SSCC remains open to further discussions with the Union and hopes that an agreement can be reached swiftly.”
Kingstonist will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as information becomes available.