Health care workers plan rally in front of Chatham LTC home

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Health care workers holding picket signs standing out front of a long term care home

CHATHAM – Health care workers are taking their issues right to Chatham, Ont.’s Riverview Gardens after they say negotiations have broken down.

Negotiations have broken down between Unifor Local 127 and Riverview Gardens, a Home for the Aged operated by the municipality.

“Throughout the pandemic, our members have always put residents of long-term care first and they demand fair pay and respect,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to Unifor’s National President. “It’s time Riverview Gardens listened.”

Unifor Local 127’s collective agreement expired on January 1, 2022 with the municipally-owned long-term care facility. Since then, the bargaining committee says they have reached an impasse with the employer.

The main issues are staffing shortages, a lack of time off for workers, wages and benefits, and agency registered practical nurses and personal support workers being brought in on a regular basis.

“Agency workers are often paid more than double the wages of bargaining unit members,” said Fortier. “When employers are prepared to take on those excessive costs, this clearly is not about money; they have the resources to negotiate a fair collective agreement, especially in light of what they have been through the last 2 years.”

The union also says members are often unable to take their vacation and the company is refusing to grant leaves to members who want to attend union business.

“We held a bargaining update meeting with the membership on June 22, 2022, which was well attended and held a ‘mock strike vote,’ and 99% of the membership was prepared to consider a strike if it was legal in Ontario,” said Jeff McFadden, President of Local 127. “That just shows how low the morale of our workers are. They deserve some relief.”

The local plans on holding a demonstration on July 7, 2022 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in front of Riverview Gardens Long-Term Care Home at 519 King St. W. in Chatham.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.
For more information, please contact Unifor National Communications Representative Hamid Osman: @email or (647) 448-2823.