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After an 18-hour marathon bargaining session, the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) again walked away from the table Monday, night citing its need for “flexibility” by contracting out hospital services. The OHA was banking on an arbitration hearing set for Tuesday they hoped would weaken a joint CUPE-SEIU bargaining campaign on behalf of 50,000 hospital workers in Ontario.

Tuesday morning, SEIU withdrew its nominee on the arbitration board and refused to participate in the hearing. The Labour Minister’s appointed chair, retired Justice Flanigan, then stepped down and the hearing could not proceed.

CUPE and SEIU will continue their campaign for a negotiated settlement with no concessions and no contracting out. The Minister of Labour has agreed not to appoint another arbitrator “right away” to give both sides the “opportunity” to achieve a negotiated settlement.

A court challenge launched by the unions charging bias in the arbitration nomination process is scheduled for the end of January.