Interval House board: despite claims from Unifor, no deal reached yet to end strike

Staff picket outside L&A Interval House as part of a five month long strike that began in October. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Adam Prudhomme

Contrary to a press release issued by Unifor last week, a deal between striking Lennox and Addington Interval House (LAIH) union employees and the LAIH board of directors is yet to have been ratified by both parties.

That’s according to LAIH executive director Sue Weir.

“Our board hasn’t even ratified the agreement yet,” said Weir. “There’s lots of kind of procedural things that are a bit odd. We’re not sure that the path forward is as clear as the victory party presented by the other side seems to make it appear.”

On March 29 post to Unifor’s official website-the union that represents the approximately 20 employees at the Napanee-based shelter for women and children escaping domestic violence-stated a deal had been reached to end the strike that began on Oct. 29.

Their full statement can be seen here:

Weir says their statement isn’t accurate, as the union claims to now be accepting a deal they originally turned down back in February.

“Our lawyer got a call from Unifor’s lawyer to say that the group had ratified Offer 7,” said Weir, noting the call was completely unexpected given that other deals had been made since this one had been rejected.

“They had already turned the offer down. It is a strange kind of process.”

“Usually you’re at the table, you’ve gone back and forth and say you agree to this, we agree to that and you get a sense of ratification and then the negotiating committee goes and takes it to the membership for ratification and the employer takes it to the board for ratification and then through that process it’s ratified….for them to call and say we held a ratification vote, and I feel like it was really short notice (for the union members) and there are concerns around that as well,” said Weir.

The board is expected to meet later this week to discuss the matter and while it is possible a deal could soon be reached, as far as LAIH is concerned, nothing has been officially agreed upon.

LAIH issued the following statement on Friday:

“On March 29, 2022, Unifor Local 414 advised the Lennox and Addington Interval House that they had accepted an offer previously submitted by Interval House on February 8, 2022 and that the strikers ratified the offer. This offer had been previously rejected by the Union so it was surprising that they now agreed to accept it. The Union conducted a ratification vote, without notice, to Interval House and the Union did not enter into a signed agreement with Interval House before conducting a vote.

The Union had rejected previous offers to settle from Interval House, which were better than the one they accepted and ratified. During the course of the 5 month strike commenced by the Union, the behaviour of some picketers has been quite concerning, extending well beyond the concern for safety generated by the persistent picketing at the site of the emergency shelter. A representative of the Union was recently charged with an offence under the Criminal Code.

The Interval House Board of Directors is considering whether to treat this as a ratified collective agreement, in light of the circumstances.

We are proud that the shelter continued to operate and provide services to vulnerable women and children in our community, during the strike. We further commend our Executive Director and staff who worked tirelessly to provide needed services.”

When reached for comment Katha Fortier, assistant to the Unifor national president replied:

“The union accepted the employer’s last comprehensive offer. Although there were further negotiations after the date of that offer, the offer was not withdrawn. The union’s acceptance of the employer’s offer therefore means that a collective agreement has been reached and the strike is at an end. We expect the employer to ratify the resulting collective agreement. If the employer intends now to dishonour its prior offer, the Union would seek appropriate remedies from the Ontario Labour Relations Board which could include a determination by the Board that there is now a collective agreement settlement.“

error: Content is protected !!