The North Star


Strike mandate voted

Windsor Social Housing Workers Eligible for Social Housing

Read Time:2 Minute

Subscribe to our newsletter:

On May 14th, workers at Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation (WEC-HC) voted 96% in favour of a strike mandate over what they describe as unliveable wages amid rising inflation. As tensions mount in negotiations, a strike could well be called at any moment.

These workers, who are responsible for repairing and maintaining affordable housing in Windsor and Essex County, Ontario, face challenging working conditions that often include health and safety risks.

The WEC-HC provides "well-maintained, safe and affordable community housing" for individuals with lower incomes who cannot afford private market rent.

But while the city of Windsor has initiated a 10-year housing and homelessness plan aimed at expanding the region's affordable housing stock, its workers themselves are struggling with increasing housing costs.

The Windsor Essex Community Homelessness report for 2022-2023 revealed that 539 people experience homelessness a month. WEC-HC plays an instrumental role in curtailing these numbers.

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 543 (CUPE 543) President David Petten said, “This near-unanimous vote in favour of job action is an amazing showing of solidarity and strength, and a clear signal to the employer that workers need real, substantial wage increases in order to meet the pressures being faced from high inflation and a once-in-a-generation cost of living crisis."

CUPE 543 President David Patten

He added that "too many of our members are struggling to make ends meet, and this vote shows that they are willing to stand together to fight for fair wages.”

According to a job offer recently posted online by WEC-HC, a single parent working for the organization could technically be eligible for a subsidized one to two-bedroom housing unit in the Windsor Essex area.

The Ontario government states on its website that the maximum household income for a subsidized two-bedroom apartment in the region is $55,000. A WEC-HC Property Clerk job offer posted six days ago proposes an annual salary of $47,783.

“Workers have sent a clear message to the employer—it’s time to come back to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair agreement that addresses the cost-of-living pressures and poor working conditions our members are facing,” Petten said.

The workers say they hope to be able to negotiate with their employers and reach an agreement providing them with appropriate remuneration and better protection at work. They also say they are prepared to strike if WEC-HC insists on not listening to them.

Support journalism going against the tide ← To help North Star continue to produce stories from the majority's perspective and in the majority's interest, make a donation! Every contribution matters.