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Ontario hospital workers have enthusiastically ratified a new collective agreement covering 20,000 CUPE members represented by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU). The new three-year contract was endorsed by a 94.5 per cent vote.

We’ve made significant progress, especially in the areas of wages and benefits,” says OCHU president Michael Hurley. “We’ve also made breakthroughs on workload, trades and registered practical nurses issues and other areas.”

Highlights of the deal include 2.5, 3 and 3 per cent wage increases for 2001, 2002 and 2003 and improvements to benefits and vacation entitlements, including: dental, vision, and hearing aid benefit improvements, bereavement leave, safety footwear, continuation of benefits on sick leave and long-term disability.

Hurley attributes the success in this round of bargaining with the members’ strong stance in the last round.

Members were mobilized and ready for job action in the last round, no matter what the consequences,” says Hurley. “That strength and militancy carried us through this round of negotiations and helped us achieve a better deal.”