‘This could be resolved today’: CUPE workers hold rally in downtown Kitchener

After 15 months without a contract with the region, local public service workers & paramedics are approaching a legal strike position

Past the Waterloo Area Administration Building on Frederick Street, a brief but boisterous rally could be seen in downtown Kitchener on Monday afternoon, while members of CUPE Local 1883 and 5191 continued to pressure their employers to timely and respectfully close ongoing contract negotiations break up .

With flag waving and blaring music from a nearby van equipped with a public address system, participants shouted “shame” as members of the unions representing public health workers, paramedics, social workers and others shared their work experiences and wanted fair treatment in the Aprons demanded a threatened legal strike position on July 24th.

Speaking in front of the crowd was Kevin Collins, a local paramedic who serves as an executive at CUPE Local 5191. With the members of CUPE 5191 and 1883 now working 15 months without a contract, Collins argued that the Waterloo area “prides itself on leading a slim line”. Paramedic Service ”and adds that households here pay less for paramedics than“ pretty much any other comparable community, ”despite the fact that the region is considered one of the fastest growing communities in Ontario.

“As paramedics, we are tired of being fired and being treated disrespectfully. At some point this year, over 30 percent of our paramedics had disciplinary action on record – most of them due to a simple administrative error. This clumsy approach has resulted in more bans and dismissals, ”said Collins. “At the same time, our workload and stress levels have increased and are at an all-time high.

“When you combine all of these factors with an already extremely stressful job, it’s no surprise that morale is lower than ever. In fact, it has hit rock bottom, ”he said.

Collins also expressed concern about the region allegedly killing “job-share positions,” which Collins says are typically filled by paramedics with young families or other personal responsibilities in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

The same concern was expressed by Alex Manson, a colleague at CUPE 5191 and a paramedic with over 25 years of experience in the Waterloo area. Manson argued that paramedics simply wanted “fair treatment,” Manson said negotiations with the region have been “unproductive” so far, with only seven appointments since February 2021.

However, Manson claimed more dates were secured – the union looks forward to getting back to the table in time to negotiate a fair contract.

“I want to be very clear: no paramedic in this region wants to strike. They are passionate people – they want to be in the community that is serving, ”said Manson. “The region depends on paramedics. This means that one or two ambulances can be available for the population of the entire region at any one time. The reduction in services could be detrimental, so we undertake not to do so. We hope the region does the same. “

CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn showed the provincial support for the ongoing negotiations and addressed the small gathering of union members when he said that workers in the two unions deserve “all our thanks and admiration” for being Kitchener -Waterloo helped through the COVID-19 pandemic – adds that it is “too bad” that membership has to send this message to their employers with a demonstration.

“We deserve respect – and by God, if that means we have to back off our work to get it, then we will,” said Hahn. “It doesn’t have to be. You can come back to the table and fire your lawyer who is trying to intimidate the workers. They can do that today. You can take off the table the proposals that are causing problems for our members today.

“You can put a suggestion on the table that shows respect for the work our members are doing today. That could be resolved today, ”said Hahn.

According to an update on Monday, CUPE 1883 President Noelle Fletcher said the Waterloo area had informed the union that it would not give members any further benefits in the event of a strike and called the move “a big blow”.

“Please note that it would have cost the Waterloo region nothing. CUPE National would have reimbursed the Waterloo region for the cost of the awards,” said Fletcher. “We are committed to ensuring that our members are covered for all emergency services during the duration of the strike.”

570 NEWS has since reached out to the Waterloo Region for comment.

“That could be solved today,” says CUPE ON President Fred Hahn.

“We deserve respect, and by God – if that means we have to pull back on our work to get it, then we will.” @ 570NEWS pic.twitter.com/fTnJd7DLkP

– Luke Schulz (@lukeontheradio) July 19, 2021

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