Unifor – Canada’s newest union – is calling for full disclosure of finances at Kingston Interval House women’s shelter, following the abrupt resignation of its Board of Directors.
A statement released on September 4 officially announced the departure of nine shelter directors, following an attempted restructuring of operations in an effort to tackle an alleged $100,000 budget deficit that would render the shelter economically unsustainable – claims made by the board that have yet to be verified and validated.
Deb Tveit, Assistant to the Unifor National President, representing 30 front-line shelter workers at Kingston Interval House called the departure of the agency’s nine directors “totally irresponsible.”
“This shelter provides critical care for women and children in need, and to watch these individuals jump ship for no apparent reason is quite worrisome,” Tveit said.
Over the last five years, the shelter has increased its management staff, while decreasing front line workers and cutting services, said Tveit, raising concerns about the future of the shelter.
Unifor National Representative Mike Armstrong said the board has been reluctant to reach a first agreement with the union, stalling progress on talks by failing to justify their claims of financial hardship.
Armstrong said that if the board is proposing to cut between 15-20 per cent of their critical front-line staff to combat a deficit they say exists then they should be explain how that deficit came about.
“If there’s no deficit – or a deficit that has nothing to do with the modest salaries of front-line staff – then we’d rather not compromise the care needs of women and children in our community. We think that’s a reasonable request,” Armstrong said.
Shelter workers voted to join Unifor (then CAW) earlier this year, and are in the midst of negotiating their first collective agreement.
Kingston Interval House is a shelter for women and children fleeing violence, and is staffed by Unifor Local 8300 members, providing critical front-line support and care.