Possible lockout at Winchester women’s emergency shelter

(OPSEU via Newswatch Group)

WINCHESTER – The union representing workers at a Winchester women and children’s emergency shelter say a possible lockout could happen Sunday (Nov. 6).

There are 13 members represented by OPSEU Local 434 at Naomi’s Family Resource Center who have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2021.

In an interview with Brockville Newswatch, staff representative Rhonda Ferguson says employee shift scheduling is the main sticking point in negotiations.

“The issues we believe are at a standstill is the employer’s wanting to schedule individuals up to 16 hours a day. They want to put that in the collective agreement and that’s a challenge for us,” Ferguson said.

She says it isn’t about wages.

“The work that these women do is absolutely crucial to Winchester and…they don’t do it not for the money. We are not at an impasse on the wages. Money is not an issue at this point for the members,” Ferguson said.

The union is holding an information rally today outside the Winchester library branch.

“We’re heading out, boots on the ground, in Winchester to share some awareness and get the community to call and see about getting us back to the table,” she said.

Ferguson says the employer has not responded to request for additional bargaining dates. “We are still waiting on the employer even to respond to simple emails.”

She says management filed a no-board report triggered a lockout deadline of Sunday.

Cornwall Newswatch emailed Naomi’s Family Resource Center but the general email address had an “address not found” error. A telephone call to the center Tuesday morning was directed to Interim Executive Director Renee Moore’s voicemail.

Naomi’s Center has been open since 1987 and provides shelter for women, with or without children, fleeing domestic violence. It’s governed by a board of directors and if funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services as well as local donations.