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Ontario hospital employees contract helps ensure stability

CUPE and the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) have reached a negotiated tentative three-year collective agreement for hospital employees.

The settlement, covering 18,000 hospital employees at 56 hospitals, helps ensure significant labour stability over the next few years during an anticipated period of change in Ontario’s health care system.

In a sector where contract negotiations are routinely resolved through arbitration, this marks the third successive, freely negotiated agreement between CUPE and the OHA. The tentative settlement features contract improvements and a wage increase in each of the three years of the contract, which runs from Sept. 29, 2006 to Sept. 28, 2009.

The next few years will be a period of rapid change and many challenges in the hospital sector,” said Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE), which represents 32,000 Ontario hospital employees.

CUPE’s hospital membership was clear they wanted contract improvements and a speedy resolve to bargaining in order to focus efforts on continuing to provide quality public health services,” he said.

Both CUPE and the OHA recognized that a negotiated collective agreement is in the best interests of hospital employees and, as a result, our patients,” said OHA President and CEO Hilary Short. “The hard work of CUPE and the OHA has resulted in this voluntary agreement and set the stage for an even more productive working relationship over the next several years.”

Both parties have agreed to ratification no later than July 14, 2006.

The tentative settlement covers trades, maintenance, dietary assistants, custodial, materials management and clerical staff, and 3,600 nurses.

Abbotsford city workers on strike

Members of CUPE 774, municipal workers in Abbotsford, B.C., went on strike June 26, after more than a year of bargaining. The union participated in mediation last week, but did not reach a settlement.

The outstanding issues include wages and job security for seasonal workers. The employer is seeking a five-year agreement.

The union is prepared to look at that, but with an agreement that long, we need protection against inflation and an ability to keep up with other municipalities, particularly in the last year of the agreement,” said National Representative Al Ens.

CUPE 774 represents 493 workers in all areas of city operations, including parks and recreation, sewer, water, fleet vehicle maintenance, city hall administration, taxation,

bylaw enforcement, and fees and licences. Their last collective agreement expired Dec. 31, 2004. Bargaining began in April 2005.

While many services are affected by the job action, those related to the safety and health of the public are being maintained. These include sewer and water services, some roadwork, and fleet maintenance related to the police and fire departments.

Private operation of British Columbia trade centre raises alarms

CUPE BC is deeply concerned about a recent announcement that private partners will build and operate the new South Okanagan Events Centre and will take over the operation of the Trade and Convention Centre and Memorial Arena, both in Penticton.

Carolae Donoghue, President of CUPE 608, which represents workers at Penticton recreation facilities, expressed disappointment at the decision. She said about four full-time city workers will be affected by the change, in addition to six to eight on-call staffers at the convention centre.

Donoghue is not pleased that the deal was worked out behind closed doors, with no consultation with the union or residents.

The process was very much closed to the public,” Donoghue said. “I am hearing a good deal of surprise at both the estimated cost of the proposed new events centre and the fact that it represents a wholesale privatization of the operations. I don’t think this is what residents thought they were getting themselves into.”

Under the public-private partnership (P3), Toronto’s Giffels Partnership Solutions will design and build the $39.6-million event centre, while Global Spectrum Inc. of Philadelphia will operate that facility as well as the convention centre and arena.

I anticipate quite a public debate around the proposed cost, management and operation of this project over the coming months,” Donoghue added.

Before the deal is signed, the city’s electorate will get the chance to vote on financing for the project and weigh in on the basic principles involved.

City council is expected to decide next month whether to hold a formal referendum or opt for the alternate approval process, whereby at least 10 per cent of the electorate must register their opposition to force a referendum.

A public opinion poll conducted in early June for CUPE indicates that Penticton residents may not support the P3. The poll found that in the interior of the province, where Penticton is located, 83 per cent support public provision of parks and recreation services.

Compass ordered to boost wages for British Columbia long-term care workers

About 60 workers employed by UK-based Compass Group at two British Columbia long-term care homes will see their wages rise by as much as $2.32 an hour, as a result of an award issued this week by a B.C. Labour Relations Board arbitrator.

The award confirms a mediated agreement reached in April 2006 after more than a year of negotiations between the Hospital Employees’ Union and Compass – a deal unanimously ratified by union members but later rejected by company executives.

The arbitrator’s award brings wage rates at the affected homes in line with those in contracts covering more than 2,000 HEU members who work for Compass’ competitors, Aramark and Sodexho, in the Fraser Health Authority and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

The good news comes in the midst of negotiations between HEU and Compass that cover more than 1,000 dietary and housekeeping workers in the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) and the Vancouver Island Health Authority. Those talks broke off last week after the company refused to meet during all but two hours of a four-day bargaining session. HEU is seeking a strike mandate to push for a new contract.

Compass needs to look beyond the bottom line and take its responsibilities to British Columbia patients and workers more seriously,” said HEU Secretary-Business Manager Judy Darcy.

CUPE and District of West Hants to go to conciliation

Talks between the Municipality of the District of West Hants, Nova Scotia and the union representing its outside workers are heading to conciliation.

CUPE 4522 has been unable to reach an agreement in seven bargaining sessions. A conciliation officer is scheduled to sit down with both sides on July 14.

The only outstanding issue relates to how workers are paid for performing on-call duties on statutory holidays.

CUPE Ontario members show their pride

Sporting its new “Public services: the pride of our community” banner, CUPE Ontario’s Pink Triangle Committee float wound its way through the downtown streets at the Toronto Pride parade last weekend.

Members on the float danced, laughed and cheered to the applause of the crowd.

CUPE Ontario has a long and proud history of standing in solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities and in fighting for the rights of LGBT workers. But this year, we had more reason than ever to celebrate.

With the election of Fred Hahn as Secretary-Treasurer at the division convention in May, CUPE Ontario became the first provincial union in Ontario to have an openly gay activist as one of its officers.

Toronto’s annual Pride Day attracts close to one million revellers from all over the world.

Seaview Manor employees ratify new contract

Employees at the Seaview Manor nursing home in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, have ratified a new contract.

The members of CUPE 2094 were very pleased that they were able to negotiate a first paid sick day,” said CUPE National Representative Kathy MacLeod. “They also received all the provincial benefits that were negotiated in the CUPE provincial nursing home settlement.”

That settlement was reached in mid-March and resulted in a 53-month agreement concluding March 31, 2009. That deal affects 37 facilities across the province. It is still going through a ratification process.

CUPE 2094 represents about 120 employees at Seaview Manor, including personal care workers, laundry, housekeeping and maintenance workers.

Employees in Nova Scotia continuing care facilities hold strike votes

Employees in continuing care facilities across Nova Scotia are holding strike votes.

CUPE 3513 (Braemore Home) voted 90 per cent; CUPE 4172 (Society for the Treatment of Autism) voted 95 per cent; CUPE 3008-A (Resicare) voted 95 per cent; and CUPE 3067 (New Dawn Guest Home) voted 100 per cent.

These strike mandates were given by the locals to support their demands for the same package that was given to CUPE nursing home workers earlier this year,” said National Representative Kathy MacLeod.

The union was in conciliation June 27 with the Department of Community Services for workers in adult residential centres, residential care facilities, small options and group homes. CUPE 3513 is the lead table in this round of bargaining.