A small group of health-care workers rallied in front of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre Tuesday morning to catch the attention of hospital administration.
With 450 members at the regional hospital, the Service Employees International Union Local 1 represents workers in various departments from dietary, nursing and housekeeping. Less than 10 made it to the rally.
"We’re very disappointed regarding the turnout and what we heard just before we got here was that the employer in one of the biggest departments – the housekeeping department – scheduled a staff meeting at the last minute at exactly the same time as our rally and we think that certainly had an effect on the turnout," said union representative Barb Rankin.
The collective agreement covering SEIU members expired in October 2009 and Rankin said they were at the table early with the Ontario Hospital Association, but they have since walked away from the bargaining table.
One of the key issues of contention is a competitive clause in the job posting language.
"It actually sets up a competitive between our members," said Rankin. "So when we have to go to an arbitration hearing to dispute a decision the employer has made, we have to actually pit those two members against each other, so we have to prove the more senior candidate that we are representing in an arbitration hearing is relatively equal to or superior to the applicant the employer has selected and it’s a terrible process. You’re sitting in a room and those people are having to put their whole lives on the table."
Rankin said they want to get rid of the competitive process and replace it with a threshold clause so the most senior applicant able to meet normal requirements of the job is the successful applicant.
About 200 union members at the health sciences centre signed postcards supporting the job posting issue and Rankin said they’d be delivered to hospital CEO Ron Saddington.
"We want to make sure the CEOs realize the members feel very strongly about these issues and in turn we expect the CEOs of the hospitals across the province to put some pressure on the Ontario Hospital Association to get back to the table," Rankin said.