Monday, August 8

Ruling Confirms Long-Term Care Workers’ Rights to Join United Steelworkers Union

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BURLINGTON, Ontario — Following a protracted legal battle, the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) has confirmed the democratic rights and the will of approximately 500 employees of long-term care operator CONMED Health Care Group to join the United Steelworkers union (USW).

“This is a tremendous victory for these workers who have had to wait several months to have their legal and democratic rights recognized,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“These courageous workers voted by a large majority to join a strong union to achieve their goals of improving their working and living standards. These workers maintained their solidarity as their democratic rights were challenged by their employer as well as an employee’association’ that purported to represent their interests,” Warren said.

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CONMED and the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) simultaneously pursued legal challenges in an attempt to thwart the will of the long-term care workers to join the USW. The legal challenges delayed the outcome by months, but ultimately failed, as the OLRB upheld the workers’ rights and clear desire to join the USW.

“We welcome these new members to the United Steelworkers union and we will support them every step of the way as they prepare to negotiate a good collective agreement with their employer,” Warren said.

The workers are employed at four long-term care homes operated by CONMED Health Care Group in southern Ontario – Billings Court Manor in Burlington, Millennium Trail Manor in Niagara Falls, and Crescent Park Lodge and Maple Park Lodge, both in Fort Erie. They include personal support workers, nursing staff, and kitchen and dietary staff.

In a secret-ballot vote supervised by the OLRB, the long-term care workers voted by a large majority to join the United Steelworkers union and to leave the CLAC. CLAC is not affiliated with, or recognized by, the federal and provincial labour federations – Including the Canadian Labour Congress and the Ontario Federation of Labour – that represent the majority of unions in Canada.

“These workers are among the front-line heroes who have gone beyond the call of duty throughout the pandemic to care for our most-vulnerable citizens. They deserve a collective agreement that recognizes the vital work they perform every day, under extremely challenging circumstances, “Said Warren.

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Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada, 416-243-8792
Shannon Devine, USW Communications, 416-894-7118 (cell), [email protected]