More than 1,900 Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) staff have voted to be represented by CUPE, Canada’s largest health care union.

Clerical staff, registered practical nurses and care aides, porters, dietary, environmental, trades and other services staff at both KHSC sites (Kingston General Hospital and Hotel Dieu Hospital) took part in a workplace representation vote at the end of last week supervised by the Ontario Labour Relations Board. A solid majority of staff voted for CUPE to represent them.

CUPE welcomes the former OPSEU members at Hotel Dieu with their long history of activism. CUPE is inclusive, democratic and activist and I know that they will feel quite comfortable in their new union. We feel very privileged that KHSC staff have given CUPE the opportunity to represent them during a time of significant change at the hospital. We look forward to working together to strengthen our new union and to advocate for quality patient care in Kingston,” says Mike Rodrigues, CUPE 1974 president.

The Hotel Dieu and Kingston General hospitals merged more than a year ago and are now one hospital (KHSC) with two campuses. Under public sector legislation following an integration or merger, staff who do similar work are provided with a chance to vote for the union they want to be represented by in the new workplace. 

The benefits of CUPE’s newly ratified 4-year contract, negotiated centrally by the union’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE) include a wage increase, comprehensive violence language and the strongest job security protections in the sector. These terms will now be extended to all KHSC employees in the CUPE 1974 bargaining unit.

“Cuts to staff, beds and programs usually follow a hospital merger. This threat to hospital services is compounded by the strong possibility of the election of the Progressive Conservatives provincially, with their platform of $9 billion in spending cuts to health care. CUPE 1974 is now more strongly positioned to defend Kingston’s hospital services against proposals to cut them,” says OCHU president Michael Hurley.