The members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) who work at Valoris, an agency that provides a variety of youth and adult services in Prescott-Russell, have said loud and clear that they’ll go on strike for fair pay and to protect the services they provide, according to a statement issued on Friday, March 16.

“The health of our communities depends on us being able to deliver high quality services,” says Carl Brisson, a mental health worker and the Chair of OPSEU Local 426’s Valoris bargaining team.

“The last thing we want to do is go on strike. But we need to send a very clear message: we will stand up for the services we provide,” says Brisson.

Nearly 350 OPSEU/NUPGE members work at Valoris providing children’s aid, mental health counseling, developmental services, and services for victims of domestic violence. Their contract expires on March 31, 2018.

Pay equity, understaffing, contracting out and long-term disability unresolved 

Negotiations broke down on March 5 over a variety of issues, including pay equality with workers doing similar work at community services organizations in nearby communities, understaffing, contracting out, and long-term disability.

The OPSEU/NUPGE bargaining team has filed for conciliation and, on March 8, held a strike vote. A strong majority voted in favour of a strike.

“When a group of OPSEU/NUPGE members deliver a strong strike vote, you know they are serious about protecting the services they provide,” says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President. “These members are standing up for themselves and for the people who depend on them. And they’ve got 150,000 OPSEU/NUPGE members standing with them.”