After three months of bargaining, workers at the Workplace Safety and Insurance board (WSIB) have voted 97.3% in favour of strike action as bargaining reaches a critical point.

“With a participation rate of over 87%, my co-workers have sent a powerful message to our employer. We are united. We are determined. We will not accept cuts. And we will not fall behind inflation,” said Harry Goslin, President of the Ontario Compensation Employees Union (OCEU) / Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1750 President. “I am proud of my coworkers for standing up and demanding better.”

WSIB employees serve workers, their families, and employers in Ontario, providing compensation for loss of earnings, benefits and health care coverage to eligible employees who suffered an injury or illness because of their job. They are fighting for fair compensation improvements, a plan to improve workload problems, solutions to resolve numerous grievances, and a process to guarantee they have the resources to improve service delivery for both workers and employers in Ontario.

“Our proposals would make services better for Ontarians and employers while improving the lives of our members,” said Goslin. “But WSIB would rather force over 3,500 hardworking members to strike instead of bargaining a fair contract.”

“Workers have all too often observed management rationalize their raises and bonuses,” said Goslin. “It’s workers who feel the sting of inflation. No one should be asked to do with less. No one should have their earnings fall behind inflation. For its part, the WSIB has sought cuts to a variety of contract provisions including vacation and holiday entitlements representing a reduction in compensation.”

“These CUPE members are a lifeline to injured workers every day who provide a critical service. That’s why CUPE has campaigned to expand WSIB coverage to all workers in the province,” said Fred Hahn, CUPE Ontario President. “CUPE Ontario will fight alongside them to push back against concessions and secure a decent raise after years of stagnation.”

The bargaining committee will return to negotiations for three scheduled dates with a mediator from the Ministry of Labour this week.