March 20, 2012 at 8:48 AM
On Wednesday, March 14, National President Ken Lewenza met with management at ORNGE to discuss the dismal labour relations climate within the company. Assistant to the President Bob Orr, Local 2002 President Jamie Ross, Executive Assistant Ashley Watkins and members of the ORNGE bargaining committee Chuck Telky and Dan LeFebvre accompanied the president. Representing the company at the meeting was Interim President Ron McKerlie, and Labour Relations officers, Donna Holmes and Foster Brown.
Since December, 2011, citizens of Ontario have watched in disbelief as revelations about corruption in the upper ranks of ORNGE, a not-for-profit corporation, has unfolded. Most of the senior executives and board of directors have resigned. Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long Term Care has initiated a forensic audit and appointed McKerlie (Deputy Minister of Government Services) as Interim President and CEO of ORNGE.
Lewenza reminded the employer that, in spite of the corporate crisis at ORNGE, it was important to service not only the external, but internal customers. "We have to ensure that our CAW members are not at risk and their confidence in their collective agreement and the bargaining process is maintained,” he said. "The company must respect the collective agreement and acknowledge the responsibility of the committee to represent the members at the bargaining table.” He was clear that any attempts to bargain directly with the membership would be responded to with the appropriate action.
The bargaining committee expressed their frustration regarding the lack of response to members’ work place concerns and mounting number of grievances. The company displayed a distinct lack of knowledge regarding the impact of extended work hours and the push to report to duty without sufficient rest. Single medic, shift overruns/duty out, and meal breaks were just some of the sensitive issues discussed; increasing the number of medics within the bargaining unit could alleviate many of these issues.
The CAW is committed to ongoing dialogue with the employer to ensure that the needs of the membership are heard. The current collective agreement expires in October 2012. Over the next few months the bargaining committee will be conducting proposal meeting and distributing surveys. We encourage all of the membership of ORNGE to participate.
We will continue to keep you informed of all relevant dates and information as we work through these unusual circumstances.