May 25, 2016 at 4:00 PM
Sisters and Brothers,
To date, your Unifor bargaining committee has sat down with the employer for a total of 3 days in hopes of [ultimately] reaching a new collective agreement for members at ORNGE. During this time, the parties have exchanged non-monetary proposals, which is common for this stage of talks. The committee has taken some time to evaluate the employer’s proposals and have further bargaining dates scheduled in June.
Unifor and ORNGE recently had discussions on the Essential Services Agreement (ESA). This agreement is just that; an agreement. What will occur should the parties reach an impasse in bargaining? Workers in Ontario do have certain rights under the Canada Labour Code. In our sector, the work completed by our members is critical to the health care system in Ontario. As such, the union and employer need to agree on what services are essential within the scope of the paramedic job function at ORNGE. In some instances an agreement may be in place prior to the commencement of bargaining, but not always. Unifor is hopeful that an agreement will not be necessary as we have some expectation that the employer is serious and would like to negotiate a collective agreement that members deserve.
With the support and solidarity of our Unifor membership at ORNGE, we will sign an ESA that ensures the rights of our members under the code are recognized. Bottom line: we want to be a in a position that best represents the desires of the membership. While we believe we are able to make gains on your behalf (with open dialogue and actual negotiations), Unifor is also prepared to force the employer to recognize the dedication and commitment of our hard working members at ORNGE.
The messages we have been receiving from the employer at the bargaining table are very different from the messages received pertaining to the changes to scheduling. Our members have made it clear that scheduling issues are of paramount concern. Updated language needs to be negotiated that reflects a positive work-life balance, and that safety must be a top priority for ORNGE, its employees and the patients under their care.
Frontline work is conducted by Unifor members who are paramedics with a unique job function different from those who work on the ground. Schedules for our paramedics should reflect this uniqueness. Your bargaining committee has heard from the members loud and clear that the collective agreement needs to be strengthened in this area and they are committed to finding creative solutions to meet your needs. The employer’s flippant reaction to changing the cycles, and now further changing start times, sends a message that they do not respect the unique environment in which we work. It also shows a lack of integrity and respect to safety which ultimately affects ORNGE’s accountability to its critical care patients. Our paramedics are the frontline of critical care in the province of Ontario and our patients and their families recognize the specialized training and care given when using the services provided.
It is disheartening that the strategy of schedule changes implemented by ORNGE does not appear to recognize the tremendous work done every single day by our members. Your elected bargaining committee is frustrated by these actions and commit to you to work hard on your behalf to ensure fairness for our members at ORNGE.
We can assure you we will continue to vigorously bargain to ensure what is fair for you and your quality of life. We thank you for your continued support and again ask that we remain united in solidarity throughout what could be a lengthy bargaining process.
We will continue to keep you informed with any further developments. Please ensure that you have subscribed to Unifor 2002’s e-news service at www.unifor2002.org.
Your Unifor Bargaining Committee,
Chuck Telky, Chairperson, Bargaining Committee
Mike Chad, Bargaining Committee, Southern
Dan LeFebvre, Bargaining Committee, Northern
Ashley Watkins, Assistant to the Local President
Kelly Ann Orr, Unifor National Staff Representative
For more information, please contact: Ashley Watkins, Assistant to the Local President
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers.
/16-05-25 Ornge bargaining update revised HTML en.txt