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HAMILTON Service and clerical workers at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) won a huge victory in an arbitration award handed down on Monday, but now want to know why money was diverted from patient care for an unnecessary fight, says their union president.

The decision to award us all the rights in the central agreement between the Ontario Hospital Association and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions is a victory for all health care workers in the province, said Mike Walters, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4800, the largest hospital local in Ontario with about 3,000 members.

Now we want some answers from Hamilton Health Sciences and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care about why they spent thousands of dollars fighting us for almost two years over something on which we had an agreement. That money should have gone to patient care.

When Local 4800 was formed as a result of a representation vote by HHS workers in July 2001, the union and the employer agreed that the blended collective agreement would adopt all the central contract language regarding redeployment and other issues. However, instead of concluding negotiations in September of that year as expected, the employer reneged and tried to take HHS out of the central agreement, Walters said.

On Monday, almost two years later, arbitrator Christopher Albertyn issued an award that gave Local 4800 everything in the central agreement. It was a win for his members and for all other health care workers, Walters said.

As the largest hospital local in Ontario and possibly in Canada, whatever would have happened to us would have come down the road eventually to other locals, he said. Unfortunately, the taste of victory sours when we look at the money that was spent unnecessarily by HHS and the ministry. HHS workers and the public deserve some straight answers.


For more information, contact:
Mike Walters, President, CUPE Local 4800 - 905-385-4555 - 905-308-6997 (cell)
Pat Daley, CUPE Communications - 416-292-3999 - 416-616-6142 (cell)