OCASI staff newest members of Unifor Local 87-M

Unifor Local 87-M is thrilled to welcome 36 new members to our local after the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) overwhelmingly voted to join Unifor this summer.

OCASI is a registered charity based in Toronto's Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood that acts as an umbrella organization for more than 200 agencies serving immigrants and refugees. Staff are involved in work from research and policy to advocacy and lobbying, as well as providing a variety of free online learning resources.

More than 80 per cent of staff voted to unionize their workplace. They now join Unifor Local 87-M, a knowledge and media workers local headquartered in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

The newly unionized OCASI members meet this Monday to elect their first bargaining committee. They are tackling issues such as precarious employment, low pay and inconsistent hiring practices.

"Workers in the not-for-profit sector face many of the same challenges as many non-union media workers, and we are thrilled to have these hard-working folks join our local," said Unifor 87-M President Paul Morse, who will help the new members bargain their first collective agreement.

"We can't wait to get to the bargaining table and help them get a solid and fair contract that recognizes the value they bring to the success of their workplace every single day."

The OCASI unit will be serviced by Unifor National Representative Gary Healey, a respected veteran union negotiator and activist who will lead first contract bargaining.

The group was organized under the direction of the Unifor National Organizing department and staff representative Hassan Mirza, with assistance from 87-M Local Union Organizer Emina Gamulin and Unifor Local 40's Ajith Aluthwatta.

The OCASI unit is the second not-for-profit group to join Local 87-M this year after some 40 teachers and staff in administration, IT, fundraising, custodian services and extended care at The Mabin School, a not-for-profit alternative private school in Toronto's Annex area, formed a bargaining unit this summer.

Unifor Local 87-M is a composite Local of about 1,800 knowledge and media workers across southern Ontario, including English-as-a-second-language school EC Toronto, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Hamilton Community News, and House of Commons technical and broadcast employees. Unifor is Canada's largest private-sector union with more than 315,000 members in all sectors of the economy, including over 12,000 in media.