Ontario hospital workers get new contract

Four-year deal results in wage hikes each year: Unifor

Weekend bargaining for 75,000 Ontario hospital workers — whose three unions formed an alliance in provincial negotiations — resulted in a tentative master contract with hospital employers on April 23.

“The hospitals had initially offered inferior wages and were looking to take away hard-earned rights from workers, but we worked together to achieve a contract without any takeaways from the employer,” said Katha Fortier, assistant to the Unifor national president.

The tentative settlement for hospital workers represented by Unifor, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare was reached after weeks of hospital workers mobilizing, said Unifor.

The four-year agreement does not include any of the multiple concessions proposed by the employer and includes wage increases in 2017 of 1.4 per cent, 2018 of 1.4 per cent, 2019 of 1.6 per cent and 2020 of 1.65 per cent, said the union.

The joint union bargaining campaign was launched at the end of March and spanned across more than 100 hospitals in Ontario where the union members were employed.

Initially the hospitals had tabled a long list of concessions and had refused to extend the wage increases that were voluntarily agreed to for other employees working in the same facilities. When each union reached an impasse during its respective negotiations, CUPE, SEIU and Unifor formed the first-ever, tri-union bargaining alliance at the end of March, according to Unifor.

Over the next few weeks members of the three unions will be invited to membership meetings and vote on the terms of the tentative agreement. The contract covers Unifor hospital members who participate in the Northern hospital master bargaining group.  Bargaining for hospitals in other areas of Ontario — including Windsor, London, Kitchener and Bellville — is ongoing, said the union.

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