Health care workers plan job actions at Schlegel Villages

February 17, 2020 – 12:00 AM

LONDON— Unifor Locals 302 and 504 representing health care workers at Schlegel Villages will hold membership meetings to plan job actions after contract negotiations broke down.

“Our members are feeling frustrated, underappreciated and outright disrespected by the employer,” said Glenn Westoby, Local 504 President. “Schlegel continues to pay wages that are below the standard in the sector despite repeatedly telling the union that they want to be leaders in the Long Term Care Industry. It’s most unfortunate that this sentiment isn’t reflected in the working conditions and compensation that Unifor members are seeing.”

Unifor submitted a report to the provincial government in December 2019 titled Caring in Crisis: Ontario’s Long-Term Care PSW Shortage that details the systemic shortage of Personal Support Workers (PSWs) across Ontario

“No longer is it simply an issue of working understaffed in long term care homes,” said Nancy McMurphy, Local 302 President. “The real challenge is frequently working two to three staff short on any given day. The residents are not receiving the care that they deserve and staff are left feeling hopeless and defeated.”

The union is committed to return to the bargaining table once the employer genuinely commits to addressing understaffing. However, the employer believes the best way to address understaffing is to reward workers with “Schlegel points”, a reward system to purchase items.

“Having a reward system to address understaffing is an insult not only to workers but to the residents as well. Understaffing in LTC homes is a systemic issue and a rewards system in no way alleviates the strain or stress put on workers trying to provide optimal care for residents living in these facilities,” said McMurphy.

Workers at Schelgel are prepared to take legal job actions in their fight for a respectful collective agreement, despite the employer threatening legal action and police enforcement.

Unifor Local 302 represents close to 400 members at the Village of Glendale Crossing in London and Pinehaven Nursing Home in Kitchener and Unifor Local 504 represents close to 250 members at the Village of Wentworth Heights in Hamilton. These two locals along with Local 2458 in Windsor form the Unifor’s Master Negotiations team.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.