OPSEU/SEFPO: health centre's lawyer is forcing racialized workers on strike

TORONTO, June 12, 2021 /CNW/ – OPSEU/SEFPO says the negotiator for the Black Creek Community Health Centre is bullying and playing mind games with its largely racialized unionized workforce and forcing them onto the picket lines.  

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says in the past couple of days a Toronto lawyer named Rachel Davis, has completely taken over the talks and the health centre’s executive director has been sidelined.  

“We are very close to a deal, and we could have one if this inexperienced lawyer wasn’t trying to make a name for herself by trying to bully and intimidate a group of front-line heroes,” said Thomas. “These workers just want to continue supporting their community during the biggest health care crisis in a generation, and they’re willing to accept the same government-mandated one per cent increases pending our union’s Charter challenge. 

“We know the health centre can afford these modest wages but Ms. Davis will be the cause of the disruption of the services in the community. I wonder if she is doing this to impress some Bay Street law firm into hiring her as a union buster. Let me be clear, don’t try to further your career at the expense of front-line heroes.” 

OPSEU/SEFPO represents approximately 70 unionized workers, mostly racialized women, working in the Black Creek/Jane and Finch area delivering front line and essential services including health care of chronic diseases, health promotions, mental health and addiction supports, vaccinations and rapid testing, just to mention a few.

During the pandemic and despite the fact their contract had expired last year, the workers responded promptly and developed innovative ways to deliver the same quality services as pre-pandemic. They have continued to support the community by providing food security programs, harm reduction and health support, and additional services for those who had to self-isolate.

“It seems like the only word this misguided lawyer knows is ‘NO’,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “From her place of white privilege, she says no to our request for a strike deadline extension. No to the government-mandated one per cent wage increases, which would only cost the centre about $50,000 a year. And she denies the bargaining team time off to continue their work at the table. 

“It all adds up to this: a group of mostly racialized women want to deliver health care, but an inexperienced white woman has no ability to identify with them, no respect for the care they provide, and no respect for the community that so desperately needs them.” 

“These workers are telling us that they’re under so much strain over this that they can’t breathe,” said Thomas. “They want the negotiator to get her knee off their throat so they can get back to providing vital health care in their community. But if it’s a labour disruption Ms. Davis wants, then we will deliver one she will never forget.” 

SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO)

OPSEU/SEFPO: health centre's lawyer is forcing racialized workers on strike WeeklyReviewer

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