Meeting for CUPE Community Services Lead Table Ends in No Deal

The Lead Table for the coordinated bargaining of the Community Services sector met with government on Monday following a series of successful strike votes and were unable to reach a tentative agreement.

“It’s disappointing and insulting,” said CUPE National Service Representative Kim Cail. “The government is determined to impose a wage grid that would lower wages for new employees and hamper recruitment in a sector that’s already struggling.”

Recruitment and retention are an issue across all health care related sectors, and the Community Service sector is no different. The government has said that they will need three times the number of staff they currently have in the sector to implement the remedy they must do stemming from the court decision in March of this year. The Union feels that introducing a lower starting wage will force potential candidates to go elsewhere.

“We’re fighting for a more stable future for all Community Service workers,” said the Long-Term Care and Community Services Coordinating Committee Chairperson Christa Sweeney, “not just those who are already working with us. Lower starting wages that require years to increase will not attract people to our sector. It’ll drive them away.”

The Long-Term Care and Community Services Coordinating Committee represents 49 long term care locals and 21 community service locals. At the Lead Table for Community Services, they are fighting for increased wages that recognize the importance of their work, job security, and a defined benefit pension plan, which only a handful of locals currently have.

“Our members are struggling,” said Sweeney. “Our Community Service members haven’t had a wage increase since 2020, and many of us don’t have any hope of retiring comfortably. We don’t want to go elsewhere to find those things. We want to stay in our homes, with our residents, but the reality is that the way things are isn’t sustainable for many members, and that needs to change.”

CUPE Community Service locals have started taking strike votes to show their solidarity with the Lead Table and their dedication to fighting for a fair deal. More will follow in the upcoming weeks. There are currently no further bargaining dates set.

Community Services employees in Annapolis County vote yes to job action

Employees at the Annapolis County Municipal Housing Corporation have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike if issues are not resolved at lead table bargaining. The  employees are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2859.

CUPE National Representative Carl Crouse says the main issue for the employees is achieving a fair wage increase across the sector.

“All local issues were resolved at the bargaining table with the employer in October,” he says. “Wages, which are bargained at the lead table, are still outstanding, along with a number of other proposals.”

The employees voted 98.6 % in favour of strike action. They are the second community services local to hold a positive strike vote.

Local 2859 President Christa Sweeney says the employees are stuck between a rock and a hard place. “We can’t afford to go on strike, but we can’t afford to live without a living wage either,” she says. “People can’t feed their families or pay their bills.”

She says the workers haven’t seen a wage increase since March 2021.

“Community services always get the leftovers, after everyone else has sat at the table,” says Sweeney. “No one wants to strike, but we’re tired after years of disrespect.”

The 70 employees work at the Adult Residential Centre and supervised apartments in Bridgetown as well as at Community Supports and a small options home in Yarmouth. They are residential care workers, counsellors, housekeepers and dietary and maintenance staff.

DCS Bargaining Update

Dear DCS members,

Lead Table bargaining came to a halt on September 27th after two days of unproductive conciliation meetings.

Since that time, Local 3067, New Dawn, took a strike vote with 100 percent of members voting in favour.

Many Locals are working on their Essential Services plans in preparation for taking strike votes. Nine of the 19 Locals affected by the Essential Services Act are close to having their Essential Services agreement in place.

Your CUPE representatives met on October 6 to strategize about how we can all work together to put pressure on the government to come back to the table and bargain fairly, or really to bargain at all! Because there has been virtually no bargaining at the Lead Table, other than a final offer.

It is challenging to organize information pickets and do strike planning when we are geographically scattered and have locals that have only a few members. But this is not an insurmountable challenge. It simply requires planning and determination and the will to come together and make our voices heard.

We will be holding a Zoom Town Hall meeting on October 18 for all members who work in the DCS sector. There will be two sessions: 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm. It is hoped that all members will have an opportunity to attend one of the sessions. We will be discussing what is happening with bargaining and where we go from here.

It is important that as many members as possible attend these sessions. Please spread the word.

ZOOM Town Hall Meeting
on DCS Bargaining
Wednesday, October 18
3:30 pm and 7:30 pm

Here is a recap of bargaining so far:

  • The Lead Table met with the Employer on March 21 & 22 where proposals were exchanged. Because the Local that is the Lead Table, L3067—New Dawn, had not completed their Local bargaining, the time was spent on Local issues. (To be compliant with the Provincial protocol this had to be done first.)
  • Bargaining was set to resume on May 3 & 4. By noon on May 3rd the lawyer for the Employer/government declared an impasse and stated that we might as well go to Conciliation. We had had no meaningful discussion on any of our proposals.
  • Conciliation was scheduled for Sept 26 & 27.
  • We met at 9 am on Sept 26 where the Employer tabled what they called a “final offer.”
  • We were told that a wage adjustment for Counsellors that is equal to the CCAs in long term care would be offered. The Employer’s final offer is NOT equal—it is 46 cents less per hour. We are also asking for an increase that acknowledges the higher level of responsibility. (Counsellors have historically earned a bit more than CCAs because of a higher level of responsibility)
  • The wage offer ignores our demand to bring Counsellors who are earning only 90 percent of the CCA rate up to par with the rest of the Counsellors. (Four Locals at the 90% rate)
  • The offer included a 1% increase in contributions for those that have an RRSP. We are asking that all members throughout the sector have a Defined Benefit Pension Plan.
  • NONE of our proposals were agreed upon or even seriously entertained. We had 10 outstanding items going into Conciliation—we still have 9!

The outstanding items include:

  • Wages—an increase to all Counsellor positions to acknowledge the work that you do! (maintaining the “bit” higher rate than what the CCAs make)
  • Adjustment for the 4 Locals only making 90% of the old CCA rate.
  • Adjustment for support staff in the Institutions
  • Shift and weekend premiums increase (if we get a 5-year deal)
  • Language around guaranteed paid training IF the employer or DCS changes the qualifications (to protect everyone with the changes coming to the sector)
  • Defined benefit plan for the 13 Locals that do not have one
  • Long term disability plan at a 50/50 cost share
  • Leave for Domestic Violence
  • New in-depth language around violence in the workplace
  • The term of the agreement (we are asking for a 5 year term)


We encourage all of the Locals to get their Essential Services plans done.

We may be asking some Locals to take a strike vote, and/or participate in rallies, info pickets etc.

Servicing reps will be working with their Locals every step of the way.

We know many of you are frustrated that government refuses to acknowledge the important work that you do. We are frustrated too.

Let’s put our heads together and see what we can achieve as a united force. The union that plans together, succeeds together!

See you at the ZOOM Town Hall of October 18.

Download the LTC-DCS background for your virtual meetings

Looking for an awesome background for your next union meeting? Here’s a background for members of the CUPE NS Long Term Care and Community Services Coordinating Committee.

Right-click on this image to download the background to your computer
(or click on this link:

Zoom background (jpeg)

Need help setting up the background? Here’s how… 



Google Meets:

Nova Scotia’s healthcare unions had a long overdue opportunity to present to the provincial government’s Standing Committee on Health today, about how we can fix our long-term care sector.

(Remember when we used to have a functioning legislature?)

Go to the 47 minute mark to hear CUPE SCFP researcher Govind Rao talk about the desperate need for improved staffing ratios.

CUPE Nova Scotia represents 5,700 frontline workers in LTC, making them, far and away, the largest union in this sector.

NSGEU Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union Unifor Canada Holly Fraughton Colleen Reynolds Coleen Logan

Go to the 47-minute mark to hear CUPE Researcher Govind Rao talk about the desperate need for improved staffing ratios in long term care. His remarks were made to the Legislative Standing Committee on Health.