Algoma Public Health workers united to achieve a fair contract
SAULT STE. MARIE, ON – Public health workers at the Algoma Public Health Unit, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), are united in solidarity to achieve a fair contract.
In an effort to achieve their goal, the members recently voted 85 percent in favour of a strike to achieve a fair agreement.
“The last thing we want is a strike, and we remain committed to delivering the highest quality public services, while we make every effort to reach a negotiated settlement,” said CUPE 1528 president Rochella McGaughey. “But we are sending a message to our employer that we mean business and are prepared to stand together to defend our collective rights and achieve a fair contract for our members.”
A strike would affect flu clinics, water safety, environmental inspections, tobacco enforcement, home family visits for premature and developmentally delayed infant support, public health inspections (for restaurants, personal services like tattoo parlors and manicure/spa services), dental hygiene, sexual health, office services and other public health and disease and contagion prevention services in Sault Ste. Marie, Elliot Lake, Blind River, Wawa, White River, Dubreuilville, Chapleau, Spanish, North Shore, St. Joseph’s Island, Thessalon and the entire Algoma District.
“Our bargaining committee has been in negotiations since June 2011, and efforts to reach a negotiated contract have been difficult,” said Robin Silverman, CUPE national representative. “There has been a reluctance from this employer to reach a fair settlement for these mostly women workers, who are dedicated to promoting and protecting public health in our communities.”
CUPE has informed a provincial conciliation officer of the strike vote, and requested a date to reconvene the parties at the bargaining table. No new talks have been scheduled so far.
“Our members are tired of being treated as second class citizens,” said Silverman, referring to inequalities in the workplace where CUPE members receive inferior benefits compared to other workplace groups. “The issues preventing us from reaching a settlement are essentially non-monetary, and there’s no reason for this employer to provoke a work stoppage.”