The Red Cross strike
Standing up for PSWs
In October 2013, 4,500 personal support workers (PSWs) had been in bargaining with their employer Red Cross for months, fighting for fair improvements to their contracts.
It was going nowhere. There was a strike vote, and although members could barely make ends meet, they decided that standing up for themselves for a chance at better pay would be worth it.
See our blog that was updated regularly during the strike with articles and photos from across Ontario as we implored the employer and government to get these PSWs back to work with a fair offer.
Sharing the plight of homecare PSWs
We held rallies and banner drops and placed ads to share the plight of homecare PSWs with the public
We are on strike
Homecare PSWs picketed every day during a brutal winter strike, with the outcome still uncertain.
On Christmas Eve, after two long weeks of clients going without regular service and homecare PSWs freezing out on the picket line, both sides agreed to have an arbitrator settle the contract dispute. The strike was over, but the PSWs knew this was just the beginning of a movement.
Higher wages for PSWs
The arbitrator came back with legally-binding contracts for the 4,500 homecare PSWs that contained marginal improvements on what they had been offered before the strike. But deeper issues of inequality in working conditions for homecare PSWs had been revealed to the public and the Sweet $16 campaign was launched.
Also as a result of the strike, communities became politically engaged in support of homecare PSWs (1,000+ MPP emails sent), members created an improved public awareness of PSWs, their work, and their issues (1,000+ media hits from Ontario papers, radio stations, and news websites), and SEIU Healthcare got a commitment from government for historic wage raises for over 30,000 workers.