We are going to vote. How did we get here?
On April 1, 2017, Hotel Dieu Hospital and Kingston General Hospital underwent a merger, which affects staff at both hospitals. RPNs, service, office and clerical employees, represented by OPSEU and CUPE at the different hospitals, must choose the union that best represents them through a vote.
On Monday, May 1, CUPE filed a PSLRTA application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB), which initiated the PSLRTA process. PSLRTA stands for Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act.
In a merger, where hospitals have bargaining units that are represented by different unions, PSLRTA is the legislation that determines the process to decide if and how the workers will be represented. In plain language, it means asking the employees affected by the merger to vote on who will be representing them. At the end, there will be one union chosen.
Members of each union will continue to follow their existing collective agreement immediately after the vote, and the chosen union will negotiate common provisions, such as seniority and grievance procedures. These common provisions will bridge any gaps until a new first contract is negotiated. Following a merger vote, a new first contract must be negotiated no matter which union is chosen. OPSEU’s practice is to work with the members to choose the best language from both contracts. In that way, we’ll achieve the strongest possible new collective agreement for all members.
Your vote, your choice
The PSLRTA process can be complicated and is often described as overwhelming. It’s important to ask questions to make an informed decision and to exercise your right to vote. This is a crucial and possibly life changing opportunity. You and your coworkers will be choosing the union that will best represent you and your interests.
When you are a member of OPSEU, you are not alone.
Your local union should not be asked to finance every membership service, including grievances and bargaining. The reason is clear: services can suffer if the local cannot afford to provide them. OPSEU head office backs its locals and its members, making resources available, including staff and financial support, to ensure members get what they need when they need it.
With OPSEU, you have carriage rights. This is important because you own your grievance. We hope you will never need to file one, but it’s good to know that when and if you do need to file a grievance, you are in control 100 per cent. A grievance committee won’t decide if your grievance is “worthy” of being put forward.
The OPSEU Professional Liability Insurance Program covers health care workers who require personal and professional liability insurance in the course of their employment. Coverage is designed to meet Bill 179 Professional Liability requirements for regulated health professions with rates as low as $30 per year.
You are never “on your own” with OPSEU. If you work in a profession where you are part of a college, OPSEU’s legal team is a resource that puts you in a much safer position than other health care staff. If a complaint is filed against you with the college, our legal team will help you every step of the way.
Who knows your local needs and goals better than you? Definitely not outsiders that don’t know you, don’t know Kingston, and don’t understand the challenges you face each and every day. That’s why you and your coworkers are at the centre of the bargaining process, while fully backed by OPSEU.
You get all of the great OPSEU perks with low and consistent dues (lowest union dues in North America)!
- OPSEU’s dues are 1.375 per cent. This CANNOT go up without a resolution being passed by a majority of members at OPSEU Convention.
- There are no initiation fees and OPSEU cannot just arbitrarily bump up your dues.
If you ever needed the union, who do you want representing you?
Choose the union that will serve you best; OPSEU's got your back.
Why does accountability matter?
OPSEU puts a lot of emphasis on transparency. That’s the only way members
know that locals are accountable. Here’s how:
- Locals must have an elected treasurer.
- The treasurer must show OPSEU where every dollar goes through TARS (Trustee’s Audit Report).
- Two trustees, elected by the local, must sign off on these audit reports before they are submitted to OPSEU.
- Every local must submit their audit reports to receive rebates.
- The treasurer must give a report to members at every general membership meeting.
- OPSEU local by-laws prevent local spending over a low set amount (for example: $500-$1000) without members’ permission.
Every penny spent must be accounted for at OPSEU.
In Ontario, we’ve had a long history of costly and unnecessary hospital restructuring. It was in the 90s, under the Mike Harris government, when restructuring really picked up steam. But the merger mindset has persisted until this day at Queen’s Park, including the current merger of Kingston General Hospital and Hotel Dieu Hospital.
OPSEU has remained steadfast in our criticism of these costly mergers, which affect workers the most. I speak to you from personal experience: my own workplace, Providence Care Mental Health in Kingston, merged with St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital last year.
I know this process is very hard on all of us. Merger votes affect our entire working careers. That’s why I want you to know, through this process and after the vote, that I have your back.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union
Visit kingstonhealthcare.org for more information.