Tropicana management has hired childcare workers from MeLor Inc. to cross the picket line during the first day of the Tropicana workers' strike. Strikebreakers from MeLor Inc., a child care staffing agency, were observed entering Tropicana's childcare centers during the early morning. Parents and Tropicana staff are concerned about the detrimental effects on child wellness by the introduction of unknown and hastily-hired childcare workers.
Luana Saturnino has been bringing her son to Tropicana's childcare center for over a year. When asked about her thoughts on Tropicana management hiring strikebreakers to substitute regular staff, Saturnino said: "I don't feel comfortable with it. I know most of the childcare staff at Tropicana's daycare. I really like them. They are amazing educators."
"The parents did not want to leave their kids with these strikebreakers," said Edith Solano, an Early Childhood Assistant at Tropicana. "They turned back and brought their kids back home. Some of them could not move their work shift right away but said that they would leave work early to pick up their kids. They don't support management in hiring strikebreakers that they don't know and trust."
It has been over a year since workers have been attempting to negotiate their first collective agreement with their employer. Final talks with management broke down on Wednesday, November 4th. Workers began striking today, November 9th.
But even as management continues to refuse to provide a modest wage increase to frontline Tropicana workers, funds are being allocated to attempt to bust the staff union. Moreover, there are reports the organization's board has voted to award bonuses for management.
Solano sees this fitting within a pattern of mismanagement, which has so far pushed over 30 frontline employees to leave the organization in the last year alone. She says, "I recently heard of a new bonus for management. And yet Tropicana management is flatly refusing to consider providing the staff with a modest wage increase."
On her way back to the picket line, Solano says that Tropicana workers are nonetheless feeling confident and determined. "We are feeling strong. As management walked in this morning, they were laughing at us. But we aren't going anywhere."
Workers have created a website to provide information on the strike to the public: TropicanaStrikes.ca
SEIU Local 2 represents workers in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick and British Columbia.