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Nipissing Transition House in 'crisis' says union

'We’re being bullied and gaslit by management. We’re being told our services aren’t valuable'
The Nipissing Transition House

Workers at the Nipissing Transition House (NTH) in North Bay help women in crisis and experiencing domestic violence.

However, employees who help those women say they find themselves in a crisis caused by the organization's board of directors.

With no progress at the bargaining table, workers delivered a unanimous petition calling for a fair deal and making it clear that they face a crisis and that their services are not meeting the needs of women and families.

Frontline workers are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and operate three 24-hour phone lines and a 20-bed emergency shelter. They offer counselling, connect women with community support, help them find work and navigate child care. "They do whatever it takes to aid women to live free from violence," says a union news release.

“Management shut down our outreach program during COVID but they’re not the ones who have to look these women in the eyes," says Bryanne St. Amour, an emergency shelter worker and chair of the bargaining unit. "We’re still doing all of this work because we know what it takes to help women take back control of their lives. That means that we’re stretching ourselves even thinner just to put a band-aid on a crisis. We’re letting these women down while working ourselves into the ground.”

Members have been bargaining for nearly a year with "very little to show for it."

There are roughly 12 members in the bargaining unit, the number fluctuates as the work is precarious and most are only employed part time.

"While morale has plummeted and the cost of everything from gas to groceries has skyrocketed, management is refusing to offer a single penny more in wages – meaning that workers would have less money in their pockets due to inflation." says a release. "Insultingly, management dangled the possibility of a signing bonus if workers accepted the deal that would push them further into poverty."

“When I started here, people had this job for 20 years or more. They were proud of the work and able to make a life doing it. We’re still proud, but we can’t support ourselves or our families,” said St. Amour. “Nearly all of us have second jobs. Some of us use the same food banks we send clients to. We’re picking up extra shifts just to survive. We can’t go on like this.”

The petition called on the Board to intervene.

“We’re being bullied and gaslit by management. We’re being told our services aren’t valuable. But I am so proud of my coworkers for taking a stand,” said St. Amour. “We are not going to accept less than we’re worth. And we’re not going to allow these critical supports for women to be hollowed out.”

BayToday reached out to Acting Executive Director Charlene Gravelle. for comment, but had not received a reply by the publication deadline.

Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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