CAW Prepares for 2009 Negotiations in Hospital Sector

    TORONTO, Jan. 12 /CNW/ - A group of 65 CAW rank and file members,
national and local leadership, met late last week in Toronto to prepare for
collective bargaining in the hospital sector in 2009. The union will proceed
simultaneously at several major bargaining tables with the goal of achieving a
fair and reasonable settlement.
    The meeting consisted of hospital bargaining committee members and
elected local leadership from seven CAW locals throughout Ontario representing
10,000 hospital workers. Local unions will be engaged in negotiations with
local hospitals including in southern Ontario at larger urban centres such as
Windsor, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Belleville and Thunder Bay as well as
communities such as Simcoe, Tillsonburg, Ingersoll, Fergus, Trenton, Picton,
Exeter, or Leamington.
    Collective agreements covering 5,000 CAW members expire March 31, 2009
and a further 2,000 by October, 2009 including in northern Ontario CAW
hospital members from Atikokan, Nipigon, Wawa, Marathon, Elliot Lake,
Manitouwadge, Geraldton and Thunder Bay that negotiate at a joint regional
table representing over 1,600 hospital workers.
    CAW National President Ken Lewenza addressed the meeting, stressing the
importance of both determination and resolve to represent the best interests
of members. The meeting concluded with the resolution to ensure a fair and
equitable settlement for these hospital nursing and support staff members; at
least consistent with that attained by others in the hospital sector.
    While the union recognizes the challenges being faced in Ontario, the
response from the government must come in the form of a stimulus, he said. "We
need to maintain and enhance services, not cut our way out of this crisis and
that is the approach we will be taking to the bargaining table this year in
the hospital sector. A laid-off hospital worker isn't much help to communities
that deserve quality care in their hospitals," said Lewenza.
    An unprecedented level of support by the CAW was also committed to the
upcoming Ontario Health Coalition campaign to draw public attention to the
vital importance of hospital services and the immediate threat of
under-funding and hospital lay-offs.
    "The planned funding from the province is simply inadequate to maintain
important hospital services in smaller community hospitals which threaten
lay-off and service changes that will directly affect access throughout the
province. These are cutbacks in no uncertain terms," said Nancy McMurphy, CAW
National Executive Board member and President of CAW Local 302 representing
health sector workers in London-Kitchener area.
    "As a local president representing both hospital workers and
manufacturing workers, it is vital that workers not fall into the trap of
blaming each other for the economic and financial crisis we face, said Tim
Carrie, National Executive Board member, President CAW Local 27 in London and
President of the CAW Council. "The recession wasn't caused by either private
sector auto workers or public sector hospital workers, and neither group
should be forced to shoulder the full brunt of the crisis."

For further information:

For further information: CAW Communications, Shannon Devine, (cell)
(416) 302-1699; or John McClyment, (cell) (416) 315-3202

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Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)

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