December 20, 2017 4:46 pm

Howe Island, Fairmount Home workers protest over stalled contract talks with Frontenac County

CUPE representatives say the won't accept sick leave and benefit concessions sought by Frontenac County


Howe Island ferry workers and frontline workers at Frontenac County’s Fairmount Home set up an information picket Wednesday to protest the state of contract negotiations with the county.

Workers say they are just trying to maintain the benefits they have.

CUPE Local 109 represents Howe Island ferry workers. The national representative for local 109, Kathy Todd, says the county’s push for concessions on sick time and benefits goes too far.

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“What it’s going to do is it’s going to limit our members access to sick time and it’s going to make benefits much more costly for our members.”

On Wednesday morning, county politicians were updated by their negotiation team in a closed session.

An interruption to the ferry service either through a lockout or strike could leave island residents stranded. Something Frontenac Islands Mayor Denis Doyle says he doesn’t want to see.

“Hopefully we can get through this before it gets to that point, perhaps at the meeting this morning we’ll learn more about it.”

CUPE Local 2290 represents Fairmount Home workers along with support and corporate service employees. In talks for a year now, 2290’s president Marilyn Nadeau says they’re facing the same issues as the ferry workers. She says attrition has led to fewer workers at the home.

“Our workload is always increasing, therefore, we need to increase our staffing levels also.”

READ MORE: 78% of frontline hospital workers in Kingston have been assaulted in last year: CUPE poll

Frontline workers at Fairmount Home say maintaining their medical and sick leave benefits is critical.┬áNadeau says the seniors that they care for have a wide range of medical conditions like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

“There’s a lot more violence in the workplace when it comes to care and this is an ongoing issue that we would like to see addressed by the employer,” Nadeau said.

READ MORE: Attacks on front-line health-care workers on the rise: CUPE poll

The county’s warden, Ron Higgins, read a statement about the ongoing negotiations at the council meeting.

He said salaries make up 80 per cent of the budget and council needs to be mindful of costs.

“In particular, we believe that the total cost of compensation should not be increasing at a rate greater than inflation.”

No further negotiations have been scheduled with either of the CUPE locals and Fairmount Home workers could see their contract talks going to arbitration.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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