Three unions representing most hospital workers in Ontario are presenting a united front as they head into bargaining with the Ontario Hospital Association.
Service Employees Internation Union Health Care, Canadian Union of Public Employees' Ontario Council of Hospital Unions and Unifor are signing a pact to fight privatization and seek improvements in upcoming bargaining.
CUPE/OCHU president Michael Hurley says it comes after the Ontario Hospital Association rejected the idea of joint bargaining.
"We've bargained together the last 20 years or so. And the hospitals have told us they have no interest in doing that, and that they're interested in getting at the particularities of our collective agreements, which to us flags that they'll be seeking concessions in this round of bargaining. We're here today to say concession bargaining is not going to happen," says Hurley.
The pact signed by the unions commits them to ten key priorities.
1. Defend the patients who depend on the care we provide.
2. Fight against privatization and the Ford government’s dangerous agenda to advance for-profit care.
3. Solidarity of the 70,000 hospital workers in our unions to fight to save our hospitals.
4. Press the government to have the OHA reconsider its decision to reject bargaining with our three unions at a common table. Should that not succeed, we pledge to coordinate our bargaining as if we were at a common table and to attend one another’s bargaining.
5. Identify key priorities for this round of bargaining and campaign together vigorously on those priorities.
6. Push the hospitals to provide safe, secure, and supported jobs.
7. Take militant action, if necessary, to win gains for hospital workers and to protect our collective agreements from concessions.
8. Dedicate significant resources to encourage and organize our respective memberships to attend in numbers any rallies, demonstrations, or picket lines related to collective bargaining.
9. Stand with one another militantly against any legislation or government intervention that threatens to further undermine our bargaining rights.
10. To accomplish this, we commit to regular meetings of our senior leadership and staff and to a joint session of our leaders at which this agreement will be signed.
Unifor's Kelly-Anne Orr says it shows they are united in defence of public health care.
"Our solidarity is not merely a statement, but a commitment to our more than 90,000 members covered by the agreements under the with the OHA. It's a commitment to our bargaining teams that you will not bargain alone. It's a commitment to every patient awaiting care, every healthcare worker working short, stretching themselves to cover yet another shift, and every family hoping for a better, more responsive healthcare system," says Orr.
"Hospital staff are coming together to defend access to patient care. Yet hospital executives are going to implement Doug Ford's austerity agenda that defunds our hospitals so wealthy investors can open for-profit clinics. Our three unions are drawing a line in the sand and standing in solidarity with each other and with the people on the front line of care. People deserve better," says Sarah Correia, Hospital Sector Director with SEIU Healthcare.