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The New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions voted to reject the latest contract offer from their employer and set a strike vote for August 8. Presidents from 35 locals represented by the council unanimously rejected the latest offer at a meeting in Fredericton July 30.

The NBCNHU represents 2,500 CUPE members across the province. Outstanding issues relate mainly to workload and its effect on quality of care, and include staffing standards (short-staffing has become the norm), sick days and wages.

The employer has so far refused to even discuss workload issues, said Gordon Black the nursing homes coordinator. Our members know how the residents suffer when there are too few staff expected to do too much work. The residents and their families also understand that there is a workload crisis that cant wait to be addressed.

A news conference following the vote was attended by more than 40 nursing home workers, punctuating the comments of union negotiators with cheers and applause.

We dont want a strike, said Gordon Black. However, we will walk if we have to. Our members are paying too high a price, in terms of injuries and illness. This provinces nursing homes are chronically and seriously understaffed. Real wages have declined as workload levels are spiralling out of control. Our members are saying Enough is enough.

The NBCNHU is meeting with a provincially appointed mediator, July 31 to August 2.