Collective bargaining begins for Northern Ontario hospitals

TORONTO, July 11, 2014 /CNW/ - Unifor National President Jerry Dias will be in Thunder Bay on Monday, July 14, to launch bargaining for a new collective agreement covering 2,500 workers at hospitals across Northern Ontario.

"These are the men and women we turn to when we are most in need of care, and it's time they had a collective agreement that treats them with the respect they deserve and recognizes the vital role they play," Dias said.

The numerous classifications including registered practical nurses, personal support workers, social workers, kitchen and administrative staff are members of Unifor Locals 229 and 1359, and work at nine hospitals across Northern Ontario, stretching from Atikokan to Sault Ste. Marie.

They have not had a pay increase in more than two years, under a collective agreement reached through arbitration in the last round of contract talks. As an essential service, the workers are not allowed to strike, so disputes are settled through binding arbitration.

"It is far better for all involved when a collective agreement can be reached at the bargaining table, rather than being left to a third-party arbitrator," Dias said. "We are beginning our discussions now, and are committed achieving that."

The current collective agreement expires October 10, 2014. Unifor and the hospitals exchanged initial proposals on July 9.

"After a two-year wage freeze, part of the arbitrated settlement in the last talks, these workers need enhancements to their compensation to stay in line with their peers," Dias said.

The hospitals covered by these talks are: Atikokan General Hospital, Elliot Lake's St. Joseph's Hospital, Geraldton District Hospital, Manitouwadge General Hospital, Marathon's Wilson Memorial Hospital, Nipigon District Memorial Hospital, Sault Ste. Marie's Sault Area Hospital, Thunder Bay's St. Joseph's Care Group and Wawa's North Algoma Health Organization.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers, including more than 26,000 in health care. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.

SOURCE Unifor

For further information:

please contact Unifor Communications Director Sarah Blackstock at Sarah.Blackstock@Unifor.org or (cell) 416-949-1072, or Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at Stuart.Laidlaw@Unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.