FORT FRANCES – Unifor Local 324-19 has approved a new three-year contract with Weechi-it-te-win Family Services. The ratification vote, held on April 3rd, saw over 55 members vote in favor of the new deal by a staggering 96%.
Weechi-it-te-win Family Services, an indigenous-based child welfare agency located near Fort Frances, offers critical services such as child care, family preservation, psychological services, family counseling, and capacity building, among others, for members of nine partner First Nations across the Rainy River District.
Unifor Northern Area Director, Stephen Boon, stated that the Unifor members were pleased with the new contract’s key monetary gains and improved language. Unifor has been successful in achieving wage increases and other improvements in the healthcare and social services sectors in Northwestern Ontario over the past year. The members of Weechi-it-te-win Family Services have continued this trend, securing a much-anticipated path towards a new defined benefit pension plan, Boon added.
Katrina Peterson, Unifor Local 324 President, added that the new deal provided valuable workers with a long-term contract, solid wage increases, and several key improvements. The agency’s role in protecting vulnerable indigenous community members across the region is vital but sometimes under-appreciated. This new agreement will provide much-needed stability for both Unifor members and Weechi-it-te-win Family Services, allowing them to continue their crucial, life-changing work.
The new deal will be effective from September 1, 2022, until August 31, 2025. It includes a 3% general wage increase on September 1st, 2022, 2023, and 2024, a new $300 annual health spending account, increased on-call pay, and a new 7th week of vacation after 25 years of service, among other benefits.
The employer pension contributions will increase by 8.3%, and there will be a transition to a defined benefit pension plan. There will also be an increase in vision care to $500, and major dental coverage will increase up to $3,000 annually, with orthodontic coverage increasing from $3,000 to $5,000. The new contract also includes improved sick pay provisions, vacation, and contract language.