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Union members rally in Alliston for Community Living Association for South Simcoe workers fired

March 16, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

Members of OPSEU / SEFPO Local 332 rallied in front of the Community Living Association for South Simcoe (CLASS) building on Church Street in Alliston on Tuesday, Mar. 7, in support of three members who have been fired after concerns were raised about violent interactions on the job.

A previous rally was held on Jan. 23 at the CLASS Dufferin Street office. At that time, members said that Developmental Service workers at CLASS were victims of workplace violence, and their concerns were not being addressed.

Workers, the union said, have not been trained to work with people with mental health or addiction issues and said assaults on the job have resulted in concussions, stitches, broken bones, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

A week after that rally, three individuals leading the demonstration were fired.

Representatives from every region the union is represented in came to the Mar. 7 rally. Several union leaders to spoke to an animated crowd.

“This fight has just begun and won’t stop until the fired workers get their jobs back and health and safety issues are addressed,” one leader told the crowd, to a round of enthusiastic support.

After the Jan. 23 rally, CLASS executive director Andrew Walker replied with a statement on CLASS’s position on the issue.

“It is important to understand the CLASS is annually subjected to a compliance audit by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services,” the statement said. “Compliance audits ensure that the agency is meeting all regulatory requirements and standards set by MCCSS through quality assurance measures. These measures include that proper training is being received by all staff. CLASS has also been inspected by the Ministry of Labour and has received positive feedback about our work environments, internal procedures and support conditions.”

The three people who were terminated say they were fired unjustly.

“We violated many protocols,” explained Senior Support Worker, Allan May, one of the fired workers, concerning the reason he was given for his termination. “We went online, because we are allowed to, and when we hear someone is hurt, we find out what the incident is – that’s what the three of us did.”

Mr. May said there was no real discussion about his termination.

“We didn’t get to talk, they just threw the envelope across the desk,” he said. “That was on Feb. 1. The previous rally we had – it’s a rally that made them go fishing for things. That’s when they started checking how many times I was on the computer, how many times I wasn’t working, but I’ve always done extra work.”

Mr. May worked at CLASS for 32 years.

“I’m 64, I turn 65 this year, and I was ready to retire in another year. To go out like this – it’s really hard. I worked with people for 20 years in the position I was in, and I didn’t get to say goodbye to them. I told them in November in December that we were going to be doing the rally.”

In response to the Mar. 7 rally, Mr. Walker issued a statement on behalf of CLASS that said, “Community Living Association for South Simcoe (CLASS) supports Ontario Public Service Employees Unions (OPSEU) right to lawfully gather as they did so today, although we fiercely disagree with the union’s claims as it relates to three former CLASS employees who were dismissed of their duties. As always, the details are between the organization and the individuals, however we can share that these dismissals were grounded in facts related to the applicable laws, and aligned with not only our policies, but our values.”

The statement continued: “The wellbeing and safety of both employees and people supported have always been and will always be top of mind in all planning and support decisions, and training provided. Any reports of violence or threats are taken seriously and treated with an immediate response.”


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