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CMHA locks out workers; they worry about the impact on their clients

Almost 150 unionized employees of the Cochrane-Temiskaming branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association have been locked out.

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Local 631 president Maggie Wakeford says talks broke down over concessions being demanded by the employer. She says management is only offering a three-percent raise, while demanding a four-percent concession to pay for the long-term disability plan, and 6.9% towards pensions.

Wakeford adds that Minto Counselling Centre workers can’t opt out of a hospital workers pension plan.

“The employer needs the union to be able to have the numbers,” she says, “so they’re handcuffing the Minto people into it, and then they’re now going to have to pay for LTD, so a four percent of their wage.”

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Wakeford scoffs at the notion of CMHA managers being able to serve 1,600 clients during the lockout.

“Our handful of managers – actually, we have more managers than that – but apparently, they can do our job.”

Wakeford says the union is willing to return to negotiations, and urges management to make it happen.

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