Nursing care workers and office staff at CarePartners in Niagara and Norfolk counties voted 94 per cent yesterday in favour of strike action if they are unable to reach settlement on a first contract at the bargaining table.
“I’m not at all surprised by this very strong show of support for the possibility of a walkout,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) which represents the workers. “They find themselves up against an employer who still believes we live in the 19th century when it comes to labour relations. This strike vote should be a wake-up call to CarePartners to join the 21st century and get down to the task of a negotiating a first contract.
“Both sides should know that OPSEU is more than prepared to throw our considerable resources behind our members if and when a decision is made to walk off the job.”
The union has grown increasingly frustrated by the intransigence shown by management, including the fact that only six bargaining dates have been scheduled over the past 15 months. Moreover, the employer refuses to recognize union representation anywhere but at the bargaining table.
OPSEU has filed an unfair labour practices complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB), which is expected to be heard later this month. The complaint includes allegations that members of the union’s bargaining team have been harassed at work by the employer.
The workers will be in a legal position to walk off the job 17 days after a ‘no board’ report is filed with the OLRB. No decision has been made when that step may be taken. The union reiterated its position that it wishes to reach an agreement at the bargaining table.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Chair, OPSEU Local 294 Bargaining Chair