CHRISTIAN ISLAND, ON, July 4, 2017 /CNW/ - All 21 paramedics with Beausoleil First Nation on Christian Island in Simcoe County have voted to become members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
The organizing campaign was brief and the vote was unanimous. The paramedics were seeking a legal voice in their workplace as a means to increase fairness and transparency. They will now move on to negotiating a first collective agreement with their employer.
Jamie Ramage, chair of OPSEU's Ambulance Division, said he wasn't surprised by the vote.
"Certainly, in speaking with the paramedics at Beausoleil, I gathered that there was a strong desire among the paramedics for representation. They told me they wanted to enjoy the security that comes with joining the thousands of paramedics OPSEU represents across the province. They also wanted to take advantage of the union's many decades of experience in the ambulance sector.
"That kind of solidarity will be extremely helpful going into demand-setting and collective bargaining. I'm very optimistic for the future of these hardworking individuals."
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU, said he was pleased that the paramedics had joined OPSEU and was encouraged by the vote count.
"You ask anyone who's been in the labour movement for a while, like I have, and they'll tell you right off that the key to success is solidarity," he said. "These dedicated paramedics have already shown that they're of one mind and that they speak with one voice.
"That voice will be heard loud and clear in the workplace now, and not only the paramedics, but everyone living in Beausoleil First Nation will benefit from it," he continued. "That's because it's the people on the front lines who know how to best serve their clients. I'm confident the services they provide the community will get even better.
"So I wish Beausoleil's paramedics a very warm welcome to OPSEU's Ambulance Sector, and I look forward to hearing details of their first contract."
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
For further information: Jamie Ramage, 905-730-9351