Employees with Community Living Greater Sudbury are hoping a provincial mediator can help avoid a strike.
The caregivers, mostly women, work with developmentally handicapped adults, and are members of OPSEU Local 676.
Community Living Greater Sudbury operates five group homes in the Valley, and is funded by the Ministry of Community and Family Services.
Local 676 is hoping to sign its second contract with its employer. Its contract ended in November.
Union spokesperson Francine Downie, said many of the employees are single mothers. Others are married to striking Falconbridge employees. She
represents 177 workers.
Deborah Sullivan, the executive director for Community Living Greater Sudbury, said she wants to reassure clients and their families that the agency is hopeful it will achieve a contract settlement without affecting services.
The Ministry of Labour mediator is expected in Sudbury this Monday.
Downie said the key issue is adequate compensation for part-time workers.
About 70 employees work less than 35 hours per week. While they are paid one rate for regular hours, if they work additional non-scheduled hours they are paid $3 less per hour, she said.
Community Living Greater Sudbury pays its workers?most have college degrees?less than other agencies in Sudbury providing similar services, said Downie.
In addition, the workers want the option of taking time off in exchange for overtime hours.