Our main demands are .45$/hr more for everyone in the bargaining unit, the language of the staff-to-kids ratio law in the contract, and an end to illegal acts on the union, union supporters, and our protected labor rights. Where do these demands come from?
This raise doesn't really track cost of living increases, inflation, or a living wage. Sadly we don't expect that much from such brutal managers. Instead we sought to gain some attempt at meeting inflation, not just because many of us are extremely impoverished, have student loans, etc., but rather because it will keep better trained more experienced people around. To work as a CATS staff (the people who take care of the kids) you must have a college degree and are paid 8.86$/hr-9.25$/hr. Strangely enough Trillium pays workers doing the same jobs at other facilities about 1$ more per hour... because they are non union. The school district pays a lot more for people doing a very similar job with less intense physical contact. This has created a situation where you attract people who are extremely committed to the kids, but eventually get burnt out by the enforced poverty and disrespect from management. They even say in their intro literature that you will get burnt out, they expect you to do so and make zero effort to avoid it. If turnover is high, they can eliminate union activists as they arise from the bad working conditions. The children treated at the Parry Center grew up in situations very close to this, ones of instability. There is a substantial body of research that demonstrates stable staff will improve these children's recovery massively. When faced with these studies at bargaining by a worker, and with the budget surplus, their lawyer said that allocating funds towards these issues are not their priority. Well it is our priority, we can't stand by and watch this politicized abuse by management, their exploiting of the kids for their own ideology. They will say that turnover is lower than the industry standard. They say it is around 19%, which is true if you include everyone working for Trillium, management and people who don't actually do the hard work included. In reality CATS staff have 50% turnover at anyone time.
They also keep staffing levels to the absolute legal minimum. This would be fine except that the nature of the job ensures that people will get sick, break down, and things will happen. Instead of waking managers up or making sure that every slot is filled, management lets numbers fall below the legal limit. This is extremely dangerous as when there are not enough staff to run the place quickly the facility shifts from care to containment. Management is not concerned with this though, they only seek to minimize costs and maximize profits, such as the time a few months back when they illegally overbooked the place with kids and had a child "borrowing" another child's room during the daytime due to lack of beds. Now the normal process for pursuing this is a lengthy and largely ineffective one. By adding this language of the law to the contract we could act quickly to try and resolve disputes and ensure proper staffing for the safety of all. It is bizarre to resist putting the language of the law in a contract... unless you intend to break the law!
Management also selectively targets union activity contrary to the law. They selectively punish members for union activity, literature, etc., while letting non-union activity reign. This is true to the point where people can use the company faxes and materials all on the clock to pursue anti-union activities, while union activity will bring down excessive punishments. One employee was fired for crossing an authoritarian boss on the issue of "taking her legal breaks". They don't give you breaks at the Parry Center. They began to do so following this woman's firing, and associated legal actions, fearing that their years without breaks would be discovered.