Joining OPSEU: St. Joe’s and St. Mike’s Q and A

Joining OPSEU: St. Joe’s and St. Mike’s Q and A


Table of Contents

Question 1:

How do the contributions for union dues work for people who also work at other hospitals with OPSEU? Will they pay union dues at both hospitals? How will it affect the pension plan for people already under OPSEU?

Dues are calculated as a percentage of wages paid. If members have more than one job they pay dues on all wages earned in their unionized workplaces. Currently, OPSEU members at St. Joe’s are not paying dues, since they do not have a collective agreement.

Pension plans are administered by the plan, not the union, and will therefore be unaffected by joining OPSEU. We understand your current pension plan has the potential to be transferred to the Health Care of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP). OPSEU has two individuals who sit on the HOOPP Board of Trustees (Sandi Blancher and Laura DuMoulin). It’s always nice to know that you have your union out there protecting you the best it can. Sandi and Laura have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of plan members.

Question 2:

In our current collective agreement with LiUNA3000, the maximum payout (in terms of layoffs, etc.) is 34 weeks. What is the maximum payout in the OPSEU agreement?

According to the OPSEU Central Hospital Professionals Division (HPD) Agreement, the maximum payout is 52 weeks. See the articles below:

Article 11.04 (b) (v) – Early retirement option – 2 weeks salary for each year of service to a maximum of 52 weeks

Article 11.04 (c) (v) – Voluntary early exit option – 2 weeks salary for each year of service to a maximum of 52 weeks

Question 3:

What is OPSEU’s policy about negotiating rotational schedules? Please provide any explanation and examples available.

The great thing about OPSEU is there is no “cookie cutter” template. OPSEU is here to provide the resources and tools to assist its members in achieving what they want, not what OPSEU wants. No two hospitals are the same and, therefore, you will see many OPSEU HPD collective agreements with different language based on the needs and wants of our members at that specific hospital.

If OPSEU becomes your bargaining agent, you, the members, will determine the bargaining priorities at a meeting to set priorities. OPSEU’s research department compiles information for our members so that you have the ability to see what has been achieved in other locals in your sector. This information also serves as valuable background as you go into bargaining with your employer. All bargaining is done with your assigned staff representative, who is an experienced negotiator. The elected bargaining team will receive training before negotiations.

There is template language in the Hospital Professionals Division (HPD) Central Agreement that provides a model for locals to follow, if they choose, when negotiating scheduling language.

This HPD model includes the following samples of language that can be used:

Employees shall be entitled, subject to the exigencies of patient care, to relief periods during the shift on the basis of 15 minutes for each 3.75 hours worked.

And also:

Failure to provide (_____) hours between the commencement of an employee’s scheduled shift and the commencement of such employee’s next scheduled shift shall result in payment of one and one-half (1½) times the employee’s regular straight time hourly rate for only those hours which reduce the (___) hour period.

OPSEU has negotiated language for numerous collective agreements including the following.


The London Health Sciences collective agreement scheduling language:


  1. Work schedules of four (4) weeks duration for full time and part time employees shall be posted at least four (4) weeks in advance subject to call-ins. The Hospital will notify the affected employees of any changes therein. The Hospital will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum.
  2. The Hospital will arrange work schedules for full time employees so that they won’t be scheduled more than five (5) consecutive days without two

(2) consecutive days off.

  1. The Hospital will schedule at least two (2) weekends off in three (3) for full time employees averaged over the period of the rotating schedule. The Hospital will endeavour to schedule part time employees at least one weekend off in three (3).
Ottawa Hospital collective agreement scheduling language:

17.05 Scheduling

All schedules shall be prepared and posted with:

(a) Start time, duration and campus;

(b) A minimum of four (4) days off in a two week period;

(c) Employees will normally be entitled to two consecutive days off, it being acknowledged, however, that this may not be possible due to the exigencies of the service. In any event, the Hospital will provide at least one block of two consecutive days off in the fixed two week period described in 17.01(a);

(d) The Hospital will schedule no more than seven (7) consecutive days of work, unless the employee requests otherwise;

(e) The Hospital will schedule employees at least two weekends off in a four week period. Weekends worked in excess of the foregoing will be paid at the rate of time and one-half, save and except where:

i) such weekend work has been requested by the employee to satisfy specific days off requested by the employee

ii) an employee has requested to work additional weekends;

iii) or such weekend is worked as the result of an exchange of shifts with another employee: This provision shall not apply to part-time positions normally scheduled to work straight weekends.

(f) For scheduling purposes only, a week of vacation is a period of seven consecutive days where an employee is not scheduled to work. Where a vacation starts on a Monday, the Hospital shall endeavour to schedule the employee off work on the preceding weekend.

(g) A request for a change in a posted time schedule must be submitted in writing to the employee’s manager co-signed by an employee willing to exchange days off or shifts. It is understood that such change in shifts or days off initiated by the employees and approved by the Hospital shall not result in overtime payment.

(h) Failure to provide a minimum of twelve (12) hours between the end of an employee’s scheduled shift and the commencement of such employee’s next scheduled shift shall result in payment of one and one-half times the employee’s regular straight time hourly rate for only those hours which reduce the minimum hour period.

(i) Where the minimum period is reduced as a result of an approved change of shift(s) requested by the employee(s), such premium payment shall not apply.

A minimum period of forty-eight (48) hours shall elapse between the end of work on nights and the resumption of work on days or evening.

Failing this, the employee shall be remunerated at time and one-half times the employee’s regular straight time hourly rate for only those hours which reduce the minimum hour period.

Where the minimum period is reduced as a result of an approved change of shift(s) requested by the employee(s), or where a part-time employee is offered and voluntarily accepts an additional shift, such premium payment shall not apply.

(j) Change of Schedule (applicable to full-time employees only)

Where an employee’s schedule is changed by the Hospital with less than forty-eight (48) hours’ notice, she shall receive time and one-half (1.5) of her regular straight time hourly rate for all hours worked on her next shift.

(k) Cancellation of Shift (applicable to regular part-time employees only)

Where a regular part-time employee’s scheduled shift is cancelled by the Hospital with less than twenty-four (24) hours’ notice, she shall receive time and one-half (1.5) of her regular straight time hourly rate for all hours worked on her next shift.

Question 4:

Who pays the elected president/chief steward when they perform union business? Are they paid by the hospital or the union? Also does OPSEU/ LiUNA3000 have set days for being off bench for union business or are they assigned as needed?

Time off for the elected president and chief steward will be paid by the hospital, and the employer in turn will be reimbursed by OPSEU. This will be included in your collective agreement. For example, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare/OPSEU collective agreement includes the following language:

Local President Leave: The Hospital will pay the Bargaining Unit Vice President or designate 7.5 hours per every two pay periods to attend to Union business. The Hospital agrees to provide the Bargaining Unit Vice President or designate 7.5 hours of paid time every two pay periods for the purposes of conducting union business and attending meetings with the Hospital. It is understood that such 7.5 hours will be pre-scheduled at a time mutually agreeable between the bargaining unit president and the Hospital. It is further understood that the occasional loss of such 7.5 hours due to patient care demands will not result in payment.

Another example is the Niagara Health System/OPSEU collective agreement, which includes the following:

ARTICLE 38 – Bargaining Unit President 38.01

(a) An employee who serves as the Bargaining Unit President or designate shall be granted Hospital paid time of one hundred (100) days per year (based upon seven and one-half (71/2) hour shifts). The union will identify and provide notice to the Hospital of the designate in advance. The scheduling of such hours upon mutual agreement shall be pre-determined with the Hospital.

In addition, these hours will not change an employee’s status from part-time to full-time. For a full-time employee, these hours will not be in addition to the employee’s normal hours of work. The scheduling of these shifts cannot be used to generate overtime or premium pay for the Bargaining Unit President or any other member of the Bargaining Unit.

(b) The Hospital will provide the Bargaining Unit President with a dedicated office with computer, access to a printer and voice mail access and a lockable filing cabinet.

In addition, OPSEU provides locals with money to run the local in the form of a quarterly dues rebate (this is explained in further detail in OPSEU’s first Q&A). This money can be used, if brought forward in a General Membership Meeting (GMM), and the membership agrees to it, to book off additional time for elected local executive members to do union work if needed.

OPSEU also pays for time off when members perform central union business. This can include things like sector meetings, or being booked off to do work on a campaign.

There are also numerous additional opportunities provided by OPSEU such as funds to help pay for communications needs and member education. Local presidents all receive a fully funded special training session delivered by OPSEU Head Office.

Question 5:

How, if at all, does OPSEU invest our union dues (mutual funds, stocks, etc.)?

OPSEU is fully accountable to its members, and we present a detailed budget at our annual Convention. Each local may send delegates to Convention to participate in the decision making of the union. At Convention, member delegates vote on the budget.

The OPSEU budget documents may be downloaded from the OPSEU website as part of the Convention documents. OPSEU has a large strike fund valued at over $50 million in 2017. It also holds investments in mutual funds and publicly listed equities. OPSEU manages market risk through a diversified portfolio traded across various markets and industries.

Question 6:

What is bridging pension? Will this be negotiated with the new collective agreement?

Working in the health care sector is demanding.  It’s no surprise that many members choose to retire before reaching age 65.

Did you know that as a member of the HOOPP pension plan, you can choose to retire as early as age 55? If you retire between the ages of 55 and 65, you will receive a monthly bridge benefit in addition to your retirement pension. It will be paid until you turn age 65.  That’s when you can begin receiving Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits.

Here is an example:

Sarah decides to retire at age 60 and has 30 years of contributory service. Her average annualized earnings are $60,000. Based on these numbers, she would receive a pension of $27,950 per year as well as an additional $8,050 per year in bridge benefits from HOOPP until age 65.

It’s important to note that because it’s a supplementary benefit, bridge payments will end when you turn age 65 or pass away, whichever occurs first.

Remember, if you choose to retire early, your pension will be reduced to reflect the fact that you are likely to receive it for a longer time. But it will not be reduced if you have 30 years of eligible service. If OPSEU becomes your bargaining agent, we would be happy to answer any further questions you have regarding your retirement plans.

Pension plan decisions are not made by the union. However, bridging to retirement can be negotiated as a provision in your collective agreement.

Question 7:

How, if at all, will the selection of OPSEU affect the retirees who are currently collecting a pension from St. Mike’s?

Joining OPSEU will not affect your pension or the pension of retirees. Retiree pensions will be included in the HOOPP pension plan, even if a retiree was a member of a different pension plan while an employee at St. Mike’s. In addition, OPSEU has been successful in achieving and maintaining retiree benefits in the central HPD agreement.

Question 8:

If the commitments made in these question-answer documents provided by OPSEU are not upheld, what action could be taken?

OPSEU is fully accountable to its members. We have a strong centralized structure, which facilitates accountability at all levels. President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida and

all 21 elected Executive Board Members are dedicated to serving the members. We encourage you to refer to the OPSEU Constitution, which can be downloaded from the OPSEU website. The Constitution is rigorously upheld and enshrines member rights.

Question 9:

Which groups of staff are eligible to vote in the upcoming union vote? Are all levels (casual, part-time, full-time) eligible to vote? By what margin does the vote have to pass to have the decision carry?

The Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) declared the following bargaining unit configuration:

“A hospital wide unit of laboratory employees, including Medical Lab Employees, Sleep Lab employees and Heart and Vascular Lab Employees”

Therefore, all staff, whether casual, part-time or full-time, are eligible to cast a ballot in the upcoming vote for union representation. Please note that anyone on leave, including maternity leave and sick leave, is still eligible to vote. We encourage everyone to exercise their voting right on this very important decision. Please also note that there are no provisions for advance polls or proxy voting. The decision for the outcome of the vote will be determined by a simple majority. The successful union must have 50 per cent plus one (or more) of the ballots cast in their favour.

Question 10:

If a staff member is actively employed in the laboratory at St. Mike’s and St. Joe’s, are they eligible to vote twice?

Every member has just one vote, regardless of whether they work at both St. Joe’s and St. Mike’s. The OLRB conducts the vote. The OLRB officers are experts at running PSLRTA votes, and they have a process to ensure that no individual casts more than one ballot. The OLRB typically does this by segregating all the ballots at one location.

Question 11:

How long after the vote will it take to negotiate a single collective agreement between sites? Is there a deadline that must be met? Will this agreement be retroactive? If yes, to what time?

If OPSEU wins the vote, we will send notice to bargain to your employer right away. In the meantime, the provisions of LiUNA3000’s collective agreement and St. Joe’s current terms and conditions would be deemed to form a part of a single “composite agreement,” and they continue to apply to the same employees as before the vote. So the OPSEU members continue with their terms and conditions, and LiUNA3000 members will continue under their contract language as before, until a new collective agreement is negotiated. The new collective agreement will be retroactive to the expiry of the old collective agreement.

Some parts of the collective agreement are considered to be “common provisions” under PSLRTA legislation and are subject to special consideration. The chosen union will negotiate contract language for these common provisions with the employer right away, based on the language of the existing collective agreements.

Once common provisions are finalized, the successful union must bargain a new collective agreement. The aim is to reach a first collective agreement within six months to a year. Note that both parties must find dates they are available for bargaining.

During the bargaining process, and until a new collective agreement is ratified, LiUNA3000 will continue to enforce your existing collective agreement at the St. Mike’s workplace, and St. Joe’s lab workers will keep their current terms and conditions.

Common provisions are as follows:

Seniority: The union that wins the vote will negotiate common seniority language with the employer to cover everyone in the bargaining unit. If they cannot agree, the OLRB will rule on the language. The seniority of employees is “dovetailed” so employees who started on the same day with different predecessor employers and had similar work histories would have the same seniority with the new employer. The seniority language can be modified as long as the changes respect the principle of a common definition of seniority for everyone in the bargaining unit.

Postings: Often the winning union’s language covering posting of vacancies and new positions, promotions, transfers, layoffs and recalls applies to everyone in the newly merged bargaining unit. However, this can be negotiated with the employer. OPSEU currently does not have a collective agreement with St. Joe’s and, therefore, this will have to be negotiated.

Grievances: A common grievance procedure applies to the entire bargaining unit.

Question 12:

What does OPSEU provide regarding return-to-work (RTW) support?

To clarify question #8 in the previous Q and A, when you are an OPSEU member, you are never alone. You work closely with your local’s staff representative, who works on your behalf to negotiate a return-to-work agreement with your employer. Your staff representative is skilled and knowledgeable, and is always there to help you.

OPSEU also assists each member who needs to negotiate a return-to-work accommodation. This includes a personalized plan put together with access to the full and wide range of OPSEU resources, including health and safety representatives, benefits officers and WSIB specialists who are dedicated experts in their fields. The extensive OPSEU staff team is here to provide you with the personal assistance and guidance you need every step of the way.