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NEWS RELEASE · 23rd July 2012
Community social services workers overwhelmingly endorse strike action.

Community social services workers around the province have voted strongly in favour of job action to back their bargaining proposals.

Members in General Services have voted 85 per cent in favour of strike action. Members in Community Living Services voted 90 per cent in favour.

"Our members have given their bargaining committee the strong strike mandate it needs. That should send a clear message to the provincial government that these members are prepared to stand up for a fair and reasonable settlement," says Darryl Walker, BCGEU president.

Negotiations broke down in early June between the provincial government, employers and the 10 unions representing B.C.'s 15,000 community social services workers. Community social service workers provide services to men and women, children and families, youth, people with physical or developmental disabilities and First Nations in towns across British Columbia. They are the lowest paid workers in the broad public sector.

Outstanding issues include: wages, benefits, sick leave and reimbursable expenses. The employer is also demanding concessions and wanted to remove improvements negotiated in the last round of bargaining.

"We are asking for a fair and reasonable deal, one that reflects the important work our members do. Up until now the provincial government has had nothing to offer the caring professionals in community social services.

Our members cannot keep falling behind," says James Cavalluzzo, chair of the multi-union bargaining association.

The Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA) is the multi-union bargaining committee for BC's unionized community social service workers. The CSSBA includes ten unions with a combined membership of about 15,000. The BCGEU is the largest union in the community social services sector, representing about two-thirds of workers. CUPE, HEU, HSA are the next largest followed by UFCW, CSWU, USW, SEIU and CLAC.

The provincial government's Community Social Services Employers' Association (CSSEA) represents 220 agencies in the sector.

What's next? The unions will be informing the employers and government of our new strike mandate. The Aboriginal Services bargaining committee will be meeting with the employers in the coming weeks. If no agreement can be reached, a strike vote for those members will likely follow.