Final Employer Contract Offer Rejected: Niagara Region Public Health Nurses in Legal Strike Position as of June 26

    TORONTO, June 15 /CNW/ - Public health nurses with the Regional
Municipality of Niagara Public Health Unit have overwhelmingly rejected a
final employer contract offer, and will be in a legal strike position
effective June 26.
    The 154 nurses, members of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), who
voted on June 11 to turn down the offer and give the Union an overwhelming
strike mandate, are now preparing for job action, if necessary. However, ONA
has notified the Ministry of Labour it is willing to continue negotiations
through a mediator.
    "ONA is seeking an agreement that meets our members' needs and will
promote labour harmony in the Niagara Region," said ONA President Linda
Haslam-Stroud, RN. "We are making every effort to achieve that without having
to resort to a strike."
    ONA is seeking the same bargaining outcomes for these nurses as other
registered nurses who work in the Region of Niagara Homes for the Aged, who
were recently awarded wages and benefits by an arbitrator in excess of those
offered to the public health nurses.
    The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued notice of a full
pandemic for H1N1, which is of particular concern to the Niagara Region, with
communities bordering on the United States.
    "The Region of Niagara needs the support and planning of public health
nurses now, in advance of the coming flu season and immunization period. It is
absolutely short-sighted and counter-productive of the employer to seek an
inferior settlement with our public health nurses, who work to keep our
communities safe and healthy. We must settle these bargaining differences as
soon as possible and ensure our members receive wages and benefits
commensurate with their value to the system," said Haslam-Stroud.
    The public health nurses provide such services as outbreak protection
(monitoring outbreaks), flu and hepatitis vaccine clinics, health education
and promotion for families with new babies, as well as sexual health clinics
and education for the Region's 440,000 residents.

    ONA is the union representing 54,000 front-line registered nurses and
allied health professionals and 10,000 nursing students providing care in
hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics
and industry. ONA is celebrating 35 years of nursing advocacy - a proud past,
a powerful future.

For further information:

For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association, Melanie Levenson,
(416) 964-8833, ext. 2369

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