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Appreciation pay at LifeLabs a step in the right direction: OPSEU/SEFPO

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OPSEU/SEFPO is giving LifeLabs credit for providing extra pay to its workers to recognize their heroic efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says it’s encouraging to see LifeLabs show some tangible appreciation for its front-line employees.

“We have had our differences with this Employer at the bargaining table and with its efforts to block its workers’ constitutional right to join a union,” said Thomas.  “But we also give credit where credit is due and LifeLabs deserves credit for recognizing the vital work that its employees are doing during this pandemic.”

LifeLabs has announced a “Healthcare Heroes Recognition Bonus” for its front-line workers, including the more than 250 workers who OPSEU/SEFPO represents across the Greater Toronto Area and Simcoe County. The lump sum payments amount to $1,850 for full-time employees, $1,450 for part-time employees, and $950 for casual workers.

Thomas says he hopes the LifeLabs announcement is a step toward a more mature relationship.

“Unions are not going anywhere because working people realize they’re necessary to get decent pay, fair working conditions and protect their health and safety,” said Thomas.  “I can never understand any employers who want to do things the hard way when all unions really want is to make sure their members have the best working conditions in order to do the best work possible.”

LifeLabs is owned by OMERS, a pension plan for unionized Ontario municipal employees, Thomas pointed out.

“I say to LifeLabs management, let’s use this commendable step as a building block to forge a more harmonious working relationship,” Thomas said. “The winner will be the Ontario public.”

OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says the union will not collect any dues on the additional pay that unionized LifeLabs workers are receiving.

“We want these front-line heroes to get every cent possible of this additional pay,” said Almeida.  “I look forward to working with this Employer in a collaborative spirit in the months and years to come.”