NIAGARA –CarePartners may be facing its second labour disruption in slightly more than a year as nursing staff in Niagara and Norfolk Counties cast strike ballots December 1.
The professional workers are fed up with an employer that has dragged its heels for 15 months rather than negotiate a fair first collective agreement.
Refusing to respect the decision of staff to organize, CarePartners has done everything in its powers to thwart their efforts, including refusing union representation anywhere but at the bargaining table.
In 15 months CarePartners has only agreed to six bargaining dates, several of which the employer’s representative chose to leave early. With no wage increase and no way to resolve their grievances, frustrated professional staff have chosen to walk away rather than work for an employer who doesn’t value them.
OPSEU has filed an unfair labour practices complaint which is expected to be heard later in December. The complaint includes allegations that members of the union’s bargaining team have been harassed at work by the employer.
“This is an employer that kept their PSWs on the picket line right up to Christmas Eve in 2013,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000-member Ontario Public Service Employees Union. “Is this private company really who the province trusts to deliver key home care services?”
Nursing staff are being asked to vote to support their bargaining team with a strike mandate next Monday. If bargaining remains stalled in December, OPSEU will likely seek a no-board that will trigger a strike countdown sometime in the new year.
“These nurses are very committed to their patients,” says Thomas. “It would break their hearts to walk out, but not striking would be worse for continuity of care over the long term.”
OPSEU members at CarePartners are asked to cast a vote in Norfolk and Niagara Counties December 1st between 6-9 pm. Niagara-based nursing staff are asked to vote at the OPSEU Regional Office in Fonthill (2285 Highway 20 E.). Norfolk nursing staff are asked to go to the OPSEU Membership Centre in Simcoe (64 Pond Street).