By Gord Whitehead, Special to the Times-Advocate
LUCAN — Oasis: “A pleasant or peaceful area in the midst of a difficult, troubled, or hectic place or situation.”
Fincore Canada's choice of a name for its retirement home in Lucan may have been well intentioned, but less than six months into its operation the 'oasis' has evolved from “pleasant and peaceful” into a “difficult, troubled, or hectic” public relations problem.
A majority of the home's 23 non-management staff were given termination notices in late November, three months after some of them had approached the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) about union membership.
The nub of the issue is whether the workers were fired for their dalliance with a union or whether they, collectively, were found to be performing their jobs unsatisfactorily.
“This was a difficult decision based on a restructuring of our business plan,” replied director of marketing and communications Julie Misener when the Times-Advocate asked what reason the employees were given for their termination.
“The reasons for retaining a number of employees are private and confidential.”
On what date did Oasis Retirement management and/or Fincore owner Loredana Bowler learn that CAW was starting an organization drive, the T-A asked. Misener responded, “The first we heard that the CAW might be involved was when we received a call from the London Free Press several days after the new business plan was implemented.”
Tim Carrie, president of CAW Local 27, told the T-A, “That's a real stretch. In a small workplace, how could they not hear of that?” He said that first contact was made by Oasis workers in August when contact was made with the national union.
Misener told the T-A the number of employees terminated is fewer than the 20 in previously published reports.
“Yes, 19 is fewer than 20,” said UAW's Carrie in a telephone interview.
He said he was given a list of 18 women and one young man.
“It was definitely unjust,” said Carrie. “We have to find if it was illegal. We're taking a look at options. It could be to be the Ontario Labour Relations Board.”
The T-A asked if it is true that a contractor has provided replacement staff and what is its name. Fincore's Misener responded, “The care of our residents is our primary concern. Staffing has been revised based on our new business plan and includes permanent staffing.”
She said that no employees of any of Oasis Retirements or other divisions of the Fincore Canada group are represented by a union.
Lambton Shores residents may recall that Loredana Bowler sought sufficient sewage capacity for her to proceed this year with a $30 million project on Ontario Street South in Grand Bend. She had optioned the property and described her proposal for 100 or more residential units and a medical clinic.
Discouraged by ongoing deliberations about the future of Grand Bend area sewage treatment, Bowler apparently abandoned her plans and stuck with her threat to look elsewhere.