Barrie – Seventy-five LifeLabs employees who work as lab technologists, technicians, assistants, phlebotomists (blood collectors), and support staff in north Simcoe County have voted to join the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). They work out of 11 locations, including Barrie, Orillia, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Stayner, and CFB Borden.
“During our organizing drive, it became clear that these employees have had enough of being underpaid,” said Sean Allen, chair of OPSEU’s Canadian Blood Services and Diagnostics Division. “They were also unhappy with poor working conditions and the way management lacked respect for their qualifications or appreciation for their contributions to the success of the company.”
Allen said that workers had met resistance from management around organizing. This group of LifeLabs professionals is the first in Ontario to be unionized.
“LifeLabs employs over 800 people in Toronto alone,” he said, “so I understand why the employer wouldn’t want an example set of workers who were prepared to stand up for themselves and unionize.”
When it came time to look for a union, LifeLabs employees chose OPSEU for good reasons, said Sara Labelle, Regional Vice-President for OPSEU Region 3 (Orillia, Parry Sound, Peterborough).
“They knew that OPSEU already represented thousands of diagnostics workers,” she noted. “They were also aware of our track record of achieving significant gains in workplaces across the sector. As such, they were confident that OPSEU was the best union to meet their needs.”
The President of OPSEU, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, said he was proud of the union’s newest members. “These workers are highly motivated, determined, and courageous. They stayed the course during the organizing drive and they sent a strong message to their employer.
“Now we can focus on achieving a first collective agreement that gives them a permanent voice in the workplace. Given their proven stick-to-itiveness, I’m very optimistic about the future.”
LifeLabs is a Canadian-owned, private, for-profit medical laboratory services company. It provides patients and health care providers convenient access to diagnostic laboratory services and is primarily funded by OHIP. LifeLabs performs more than 100 million laboratory tests every year, helping health care providers diagnose, treat, monitor, and prevent disease in patients.
For more information: Lois Boggs, OPSEU organizer, 416-557-2853