TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 17, 2012) - Staff at COSTI Immigrant Services, members of Local 2221 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 2221), are warning that unless their employer gets serious about negotiating a fair collective agreement, communities across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) could be without the vital services the multicultural agency provides.
"Our members have been very clear that they're prepared to do what it takes to bargain a collective agreement that is fair to all parties, but we cannot do this if COSTI continues to make unreasonable demands for concessions at the bargaining table," said Mahmoud Saddo, President of CUPE 2221.
"Bargaining requires both sides to come to the table and actually negotiate. Our bargaining committee can't negotiate without a willing partner across the table," he added.
Last week, members of CUPE 2221 voted to give their bargaining a committee a mandate to take any and all actions necessary to secure a fair collective agreement.
"We are making every possible effort to avoid a labour disruption, but our bargaining committee now has a strong mandate from the membership to engage in dialogue and do what they think is needed to resolve this," said Saddo.
Local 2221's members provide a wide range of services at 17 COSTI locations across the GTA, including career counseling, settlement assistance for new Canadians, specialized employment services for foreign-trained professionals, refugee assistance, Ontario Works, Employment Insurance recipient and general employment counseling to name just a few.
Last year, more than 55,000 people received assistance in more than 60 languages across Toronto, York and Peel Regions.
"The people who rely on the services we provide at COSTI deserve uninterrupted services. Our commitment is to them, but we are faced with concessions that our members refuse to take. We have always had a good and understanding relationship with COSTI, and we want that to continue," said Saddo.
Local 2221 will meet with a Provincial Conciliator on October 10 in an effort to secure a fair negotiated settlement.