Union representing municipal day care staff says workers essentially given ‘ultimatum’, Municipality provides update
Tim Brody - Editor
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) members at Biidaaban and Sioux Mountain Children’s Centre say they are, “fearful of child care space loss” following an announcement in September that The Municipality of Sioux Lookout had entered into a transfer agreement with the Kenora District Services Board (KDSB) wherein the KDSB would assume responsibility for the two Municipally-run Child Care centres, effective January 1, 2022.
Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, CUPE Ontario social services chair, alleged in a Nov. 4 CUPE media release that, “The municipality and KDSB are essentially giving workers an ultimatum: relinquish your CUPE bargaining rights or lose everything that you have accumulated and accomplished from your years of service delivering child care.”
Kristin Wray, Vice-President of CUPE Local 2141, which represents the 18 child care workers employed at the municipally-run child care centres, stated in the CUPE media release, “Losing CUPE status would set child care back decades in Sioux Lookout. We’d be back at square one at the bargaining table to maintain our collective agreement rights that ensure respectable jobs and quality child care in our community.”
In a Nov. 8 media release, the Municipality shared that it, “recently become aware of an application to the Ontario Labour Board with respect to which Union will represent the childcare workers following the transfer. As a result of this application and associated issues, the Municipality will be required to continue operating the childcare centres into the first quarter of 2022, after which it is anticipated that the KDSB will operate childcare services.
“We wish to reassure the public that childcare services will continue as of January 1, 2022.”
According to the Municipality:
• “Municipal childcare workers are not being asked to relinquish any collective bargaining
• “the Municipality has, through the Transfer Agreement, ensured the protection of our childcare worker’s rights and benefits, including the retention of seniority, vacation, sick leave entitlements, and other such benefits which have been negotiated and accrued over the years;
• “the Municipality has kept its childcare staff informed of the process and continues to be transparent with respect to the transfer of the program, answering questions and concerns from staff as they arise.
• “the Municipality has worked diligently with the KDSB to ensure that the childcare delivery model implemented through a transfer would not see a reduction in childcare spaces.”
Asked about the CUPE media release and the allegations contained within, The KDSB shared with The Bulletin, “The KDSB will not be providing a response at this time. We will be issuing our own response in the coming days.”