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CMHA workers in Brant Haldimand Norfolk ratify first contract

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Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) workers in the Brant Haldimand Norfolk region have ratified their first collective agreement, which will see some wages increased by as much as five per cent in the first year of the three-year deal.

The deal follows the 2016 merger of  CMHA units in Simcoe and Brantford. The two groups of workers in the newly-certified 55-member bargaining unit of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) went into bargaining with different wage schedules and working conditions.

“There were two very different standards and entitlements within this new, merged organization,” said Catherine Bomberry, president of OPSEU Local 218 and chair of the bargaining team. “For starters, the wage and benefits packages were quite unequal. It was our goal from the outset to ensure harmonization and equity in the workplace.

“The bargaining team worked extremely hard, and we’re very happy with the ratification result.”

A pension plan for all, improved benefits, guaranteed sick days (including mental health days), and standardized vacation entitlements are among the gains achieved in the collective agreement. Employees will have annual pay increases of at least two per cent. 

The collective agreement went into effect on April 21. 

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas applauded the union’s newest members for the hard work they put into getting a first contract.

“I know from experience how difficult it can be to hammer out a contract when workers negotiate together for the first time in a merged operation,” said Thomas. “By all accounts, our new CMHA members came away with a good contract that can be built upon in subsequent rounds of bargaining. I heartily welcome them to the OPSEU family.”

OPSEU represents more than 7,000 mental health workers in hospitals, community mental health agencies, crisis homes, and correctional services.

For more information: Catherine Bomberry, 519-732-8774