Paramedics in Lennox and Addington are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, after months embroiled in a battle at the bargaining table with the County of Lennox & Addington Ambulance Service.
After three days in conciliation failed, OPSEU local 422’s bargaining team filed a “no board” earlier this month, which initiated the countdown to a strike or lockout. Prior to reaching the strike deadline at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, June 23, one day of mediation was scheduled. By the end of that day, no deal had been reached.
The parties have now agreed to voluntary arbitration, to ensure a resolution can be found, while avoiding the possibility of a strike or lockout. A relief for local members who have been without a contract for two and a half years.
“This has been a grueling process, with an employer that’s unwilling to budge,” according to Randy Snider, president of OPSEU local 422. “We want this resolved, but we’re not going to cave to this employer’s tactics. We brought reasonable demands to the table, so we’re happy to take this to arbitration. We’ll respect the outcomes that are decided by a neutral third party.”
“These paramedics deserve fairness,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “As the frontline of care, these workers deserve stability; they deserve respect, so that they can do their jobs properly. As we enter a new political era in Ontario, this is more important now than ever.”
“I’ve said it before, we want to negotiate a functional and fair contract for our hardworking members,” said Snider. “We care about our jobs, and we care about our community. We’re willing to keep negotiating, and we’ve got the full strength of OPSEU behind us, but we’re not naïve. If our experience to-date is any indication, we are prepared to head into arbitration.”