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Employees of Kerry’s Place Autism Services are on Strike

Photo Courtesy of SIEU Healthcare

TORONTO – After a few months chock-full of job action, another group of employees has walked off the job in the Greater Toronto Area. Over 120 Developmental Service Workers (DSWs) employed by Kerry’s Place Autism Services are striking due to concerns like low wages.

Kerry’s Place offers various styles of supported living, such as group homes for adults who are on the autism spectrum, most of whom face significant barriers living on their own. 

Workers from the 14 homes run by Kerry’s Place represented by the Service Employees International Union (SIEU) say they have been subjected to Bill 124’s wage restraints for the past three years. Workers have voiced their concern that systemically low wages will affect recruitment and retention efforts, thereby jeopardizing care over the term of the contract.

Workers have also shared disappointment in senior management at Kerry’s Place who do little to address racism directed at staff who are originally from Nigeria and Jamaica.

“We are hardworking workers who take care of individuals with autism and our company refuses on giving us a living wage, sick days for part-time employees, and a safe work environment free of racism and excessive long hours,” one worker told The Brandon Gonez Show.

While online, members of the union have been sharing their stance on the strike. 

“These mostly racialized and women DSWs know the value they bring to the lives of the residents they serve. They want to be treated with respect, free of workplace racism,” wrote one picketer on Twitter.

Others working in the same profession also voiced their support. 

“Solidarity w/ DSWs at Kerry’s Place! I have the same career & can say with certainty that calling us heroes doesn’t help pay the bills. Workplace safety, wage increases& paid sick days is what’s needed.”

The protest, which has been going on for the better part of the last two weeks, comes as the Supreme Court rules Bill 124 unconstitutional. The Bill suppressed public worker wage increases to just 1% annually, has been the focal point of many protests, and has been blamed for a mass exodus of healthcare workers in the province. However, Ford’s government has announced plans to appeal the decision.

Drop your thoughts on this situation in the comments below.

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