Union holds an information picket outside the hospital and calls on his employer, Erisdon, to return to the negotiating table.Skilled workers need higher wages, need more respect, says union’s local president
Workers represented by EllisDon Facilities Services (Sault Area Hospital) Inc. Unifor Local 1359, along with other union supporters, gathered to hold an information picket in the cold weather at 750 Great Northern Road. I asked for a raise in front of the main entrance of SAH in Wednesday.
The workers involved in the information picket were not employed by SAH, but were employed by Ellisdon Facility Services primarily to perform skilled work within the hospital, such as electrical, plumbing and painting.
15 Unifor Local 1359 workers have not signed collective bargaining agreements since October 2021. The union has been negotiating with employers since July 2022.
With negotiations falling short and employers walking away, Unifor wants EllisDon to return to the negotiating table instead of going to arbitration.
Unifor’s workers were not affected by Ontario’s Bill 124, but by limiting nurse wage increases to 1% per year for three years, the Ontario government passed a court decision that nullified Bill 124. appealed against. And kept the salary increase for Unifor Local 1359 employees at 1% for the same year.
“They said they were going to follow the hospital’s pattern. They refused to negotiate and just follow the hospital,” Unifor Local 1359 president Cathy Humaramaki told SooToday.
“We have 15 employees. We had 17 people and we lost two plumbers. We were unable to recruit and retain skilled workers because the wages are very low compared to skilled workers in the industry.”
“The second plumber definitely retired to get a better pay. We had two electricians, now we have one. We are losing them left, right and center. increase.”
“Erisdon doesn’t have a plumber to maintain this building, and this building has a lot of toilets. If we’re talking about, they’re beefing up their maintainers to do the work that two seasoned tradesmen did in the past, and for much less.”
“I’m not saying Erisdon isn’t going to hire them, but they aren’t paying enough. If they don’t pay enough and don’t respect their skilled trades, how hard they work. They have to be able to pay them for recruitment and retention,” Humaramaki said.
The president of Unifor Local 1359 stressed Wednesday’s picket line gathering was not a strike and workers are prohibited from striking under the Hospital Dispute Arbitration Act.
Humalamaki reiterated that the proposed annual price increase of 1% is not enough.
“Inflation is 6%. We just got EACOM Timber members in November, 26% in five years, and they are skilled traders. I’m getting the 1 percent.It’s not feasible.Working inside a hospital doesn’t count as a skilled craftsman.I understand they get paid less than outside construction. but we still need more than 1% wages.”
“If you’re doing a skilled job, $30 an hour isn’t enough. They need to push $40. They’re keeping the hospital running.”