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Bloodlines, Issue 7: New tentative deal preserves the right to strike

In Issue 3 of Bloodlines, we reported on a tentative agreement reached between the union and the employer – an agreement that members turned down in September.

Click here to download Bloodlines, Issue 7

In Issue 3 of Bloodlines, we reported on a tentative agreement reached between the union and the employer – an agreement that members turned down in September.

In November, members gave the bargaining team an impressive 89 per cent strike mandate. With that kind of support, the team was able to apply considerable pressure on the employer to enhance the rejected offer.

The parties agreed to three further bargaining dates in the presence of a conciliator: December 12, February 27 and February 28. In the evening of the 28th, bargaining team chair Jennifer Johnson announced that they had reached a tentative agreement.

“We’ve struck a tentative deal that, if ratified by the members, will retain all the benefits that the previous tentative settlement offered. But this tentative agreement also carries a number very important and exciting wins that I’m confident members will be extremely pleased with. It’s a great tentative deal and it’s a great day for CBS support workers.”

Johnson said bargaining team members were particularly conscious of members’ wish to keep the right to strike, rather than to settle contract disputes through interest arbitration.

“We heard our members and we delivered,” she said. “The right to strike stays.”

Johnson went on to note that wage increases were above the industry standard and in line with hospital workers. “CBS OPSEU workers have now established a new pattern for support workers.”

April 1, 2017 0.75%

October 1, 2017 1.00%

April 1, 2018 0.75%

October 1, 2018 1.00%

April 1, 2019 0.75%

October 1, 2019 1.00%

April 1, 2020 0.75%

October 1, 2020 1.00%
“But for drivers, the wage news is even better,” she pointed out. “In addition to their twice-yearly increases, drivers will get an increase of one dollar an hour, retroactive to April 1, 2017. What’s more, the evaluation of the driver position is ongoing. This may not be the last word.”

The bargaining team chair went on to mention something that had been a source of great frustration among support workers.

“Sometimes a blood clinic would wrap up sooner than the scheduled hours,” Johnson said. “When that happened, our support workers only got paid till the clinic shut down. That kind of injustice will be history now. Workers will get paid for the originally scheduled hours, even if the clinic ends earlier.”

Johnson said she had saved what she considered the best news for last.

“All workers will get double time for any hours they work on Sunday. Some members were grandfathered and were paid more for Sunday hours. From now on, every, single worker will get paid double time to work on Sunday. This is a fantastic achievement, and the team is particularly proud of it.”

Not all the enhancements were related to compensation, however. Johnson spoke of gains in paid time off.

“From now on, all part-time, casual and temporary workers will receive two paid days of personal emergency leave annually. Full-time workers will get three days, but only one of them will be deducted from their sick-time bank. These days can be critically important for maintaining a healthy life-work balance.”

She added that the employer will hire five full-time donor care associates for the Local 5103, which suffers particularly from a lack of full-time staff.

The President of OPSEU was one of the first to congratulate Johnson and the bargaining team on the tentative deal.

“This bargaining team has worked selflessly over long months and made tremendous personal sacrifices to get to this point,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “I know one of the things that kept them from getting discouraged was the unfailing support they got from the membership. And of course, OPSEU staff, particularly negotiator Andrew Ruszczak, were there every step of the way.

“I’m proud of everyone for their hard work and offer my thanks for a job well done.”

Along with President Thomas, the bargaining team extends its sincere appreciation to the members for their backing and solidarity. Put simply, we could not have arrived at this tentative deal without you. Thank you for travelling this long and difficult road with us.

Dates and places for a ratification vote on the latest tentative agreement will be forthcoming.

Teletown hall

The bargaining team, along with OPSEU negotiator Andrew Ruszczak, will host a teletown hall on the tentative agreement on Thursday, March 8, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., Eastern Time. They will review all details of the tentative settlement during the townhall. All members are strongly encouraged to participate.

To connect, simply dial toll-free 877-229-8493. When prompted, enter the ID code 112847.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn more about the deal and to ask your questions.

Please click here to download the memorandum of settlement.