BROCKVILLE, Ontario--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The United Steelworkers union (USW) has reached a new collective agreement with Leeds and Grenville Interval House, ending a two-week strike.
The new agreement was ratified by the members of USW Local 8327 in an online vote on May 3.
The 20 workers, all women, are counsellors and frontline staff, providing services to both temporary residents and external clients trying to escape domestic violence.
Staff at the Leeds and Grenville Interval House are upbeat and hopeful the new contract – their first collective agreement – marks a fresh start.
The two-year deal includes wage increases of 1% a year, as per the provincial government’s cap on contracts in the broader public sector, and codifies the workers’ benefits in the collective agreement language.
The wage increases will be the first the staff have received in over 10 years.
The strike began on April 20. The staff never deserted their clients, however, despite media reports to the contrary.
“We were on site making sure members of the management team were available, before we began our legal strike,” said Kellie Hare, USW Local 8327 Unit Chair.
“We care deeply about the women and their children escaping domestic violence, who we support. We’re eager to return to work. This agreement helps us do that with our heads held high,” said Hare.
“I’m proud of the determination of these women to win respect. With this new agreement and the strength of our union, they’ve shown it’s possible to fight for fairness at work,” said Tracy Simpson, USW Staff Representative.
Demand for the shelter’s services has increased by 50% due to a disturbing rise in domestic violence since the start of the pandemic.
The workers thank members of other local unions including CUPE and OPSEU, as well as the Brockville and District Labour Council, who supported the women during their strike and kept their spirits up.
Leeds and Grenville Interval House is funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services and other community sources such as donations and fundraising. The USW also represents other Interval House workers in Eastern Ontario.
The Leeds and Grenville Interval House staff members joined the union in February 2020.
The USW represents 225,000 workers across Canada in nearly every economic industry, including a growing number of workers in the care sector. The union represents 850,000 workers in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.