"Outrageous" Employer Proposals Stall Talks at Nursing Homes

June 16, 2011, 8:40 AM EST

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Contract talks between the CAW and 20 privately-owned nursing homes in southern Ontario broke off as of May 26. The CAW master bargaining committee rejected the employers' demand for "net zero" compensation, implying that any wage gains for 2000 workers must be met by equivalent cost cuts in other areas of the agreement.

CAW Local 302 President Nancy McMurphy called the proposal outrageous.

"To suggest that front-line care providers have to pay for their own wage increases is totally unacceptable," McMurphy said. "Families spend their hard-earned money to ensure their loved ones are properly cared for. These are profitable businesses that have simply grown accustomed to having wage increases covered by public funding from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. In our opinion, they have a moral obligation to treat their employees with respect and dignity."

To justify their position the employers' continue to cite Ontario's Bill 16, which proposes public sector wage restraints for workers. Incredibly they cite Bill 16, despite the fact it doesn't apply to private, for-profit, long term care services, said CAW National Representative Robert Buchanan.

"The province has already made it clear that there will be no increase in funding provided to these homes, but that doesn't preclude them from negotiating fair settlements," Buchanan said.

"Essentially these employers are telling our members that if Ontario taxpayers don't pay for your wage increase then you get nothing. They won't compromise their profits. This is blatantly unfair."

CAW represents 2000 long term care workers in these 20 private homes (located from Windsor to Kitchener) through locals' 302, 1106 and 2458. The union is currently planning bargaining update meetings with members across the province in the coming weeks.

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