Thursday, April 12, 2012

Something Stinks at the Lincoln County Humane Society

On Friday, April 13th, 2012, workers at the Lincoln County Humane Society (LCHS) will have been on strike for fifty (50) days.  They are fighting to prevent a two-tier system where new employees will be paid less and have no benefits, and to protect benefits and full-time employment for existing employees.

Financial records from the LCHS, despite what they've told the press, show that the LCHS consistently runs surplus budgets.  Funding sources for the LCHS include the municipalities of St. Catharines and Thorold, as well as private donations.  In the past year, private donations have been funnelled from general operations into the construction of a spay/neuter clinic which sits unused.  Workers are essentially being asked to pay for the construction out of their salaries and benefits.

Meanwhile the LCHS, which insists it's running deficits, has found the money since the strike began to install a keycard entry security system, as well as a network of video surveillance cameras.  When an agency asking its workers to take pay and benefit cuts can spontaneously come up with the money to install high-tech security, it belies any claims of financial hardship.  It also demonstrates irresponsible use of public money and private donations.

What really stinks at the LCHS, though, is their management.  Until the Mayor of St. Catharines intervened recently, Executive Director Kevin Strooband was piling the carcasses of dead, diseased skunks in close proximity to the picketing workers.

Anyone who would behave so despicably has absolutely no business being in a position of authority.

The Board of Directors of the LCHS has been negligent in allowing such behaviour from their Executive Director.  They need to be seriously reconsidering his employment by the LCHS.  His actions damage the reputation of LCHS, as well as the reputation of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), which the LCHS is affiliated with.  Of course, the OSPCA isn't helping its own reputation by providing the LCHS with scab workers.  Lack of integrity clearly isn't limited to Kevin Strooband.

The Board of Directors also needs to seriously consider that someone who would stack skunk carcasses beside his employees is quite likely to be the source of much of the labour unrest which LCHS is currently experiencing.  Firing a recalcitrant manager who has publicly demonstrated his animosity towards workers could quite likely lead to a quick wrap-up of the labour dispute.

What can you do to support these striking workers?

Begin by filling out the online petition here.

Follow that up by sending e-mails to the Board of Directors.

Show up at the picket to support the workers.  Pickets are going on 7 days a week from 8:30am-4pm at the LCHS located at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Louth Street in St. Catharines.

Finally, you can financially support the workers.  Cheques can be made payable to the "CUPE Local 1287 Strike Fund" and mailed to 133 Front Street North, Thorold, Ontario, L2V 0A3.

Updates: Apparently I'm not the only one that thinks Strooband should resign (if not the entire Board).

The Niagara Regional Labour Council is hosting a Solidarity Fundraiser for the CUPE 1287 LCHS workers on June 8th, 7:30pm, at the CAW Hall at 124 Bunting Rd.