OPSEU President calls on MPP Downey to intervene in LifeLabs attacks on unionized workers

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Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is calling on MPP Doug Downey to intervene in LifeLabs union busting tactics, which is harming quality of care for the residents of Simcoe County.

The union picketed outside Downey’s office in Barrie on Friday following repeated cases of mistreatment by LifeLabs management against its unionized health care workers in Simcoe County, including refusing unionized workers the same pay incentives and bonuses as their non-unionized peers.

“It’s shameful that LifeLabs is willing to sacrifice health care in Simcoe County to achieve their union busting agenda,” said Thomas. “Frontline health care workers deserve better than this and so do Simcoe County residents.”

The staffing recruitment and retention crisis in LifeLabs Simcoe County has led to lengthy lineups at clinics, location closures, and verbal and physical abuse against staff by the public. In a memo outlining improvements to their compensation plan, meant to help retain employees and attract new hires, LifeLabs COO Jennifer Cudlipp stated that increased compensation and bonuses would only be provided to non-unionized staff.

OPSEU/SEFPO Local 389 President, Renee Aiken Kearsley, noted that many frontline staff have left the clinic as a result of mental stress and lack of support from management.

“Our members, like all frontline health care workers, have been facing heavy workloads to meet the increasing demand for care during this pandemic,” said Kearsley. “It’s demoralizing that instead of receiving support from management, they’re being disrespected and undervalued.”

Thomas added that LifeLabs has repeatedly risked quality of care in favour of its union busting agenda during the pandemic, having previously gone around the union to open a COVID-19 assessment centre staffed by unskilled agency workers.

“LifeLabs attacks on unionized workers is unfair and irresponsible,” said Thomas. “Enough is enough. Union busting should never be put ahead of Ontarians’ health.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas 613-329-1931; OPSEUCommunications@opseu.org