A strike beginning midnight on Wednesday now appears inevitable after city officials made an insulting final offer to Unifor paramedics in Sault Ste. Marie, before walking away from talks.
“The employer is proposing a mere half a percentage yearly wage increase, which is like the City saying these paramedics are worth less than other paramedics in Ontario because others earn substantially more for the same work,” said Laurie Lessard-Brown, Unifor Local 1359 President.
Unifor local 1359 represents 54 paramedics who have been without a contract since March 2017.
The union had made a comprehensive offer to settle all outstanding issues and that included wage improvements that mirrored agreements with other Unifor paramedic units.
The employer’s response was to increase the wage proposal by just 0.25 per cent to a yearly 0.5 per cent.
“It is completely unacceptable and embarrassing that the city of Sault Ste. Marie is showing such disrespect to first responders who save lives every day,” said Lessard-Brown.
After four days of conciliation, Unifor was prepared to negotiate around the clock to reach a deal before the deadline of midnight tomorrow.
The union was disappointed when the employer sent the mediator back to Toronto, effectively ending any chance of a resolution.
“It now appears the City would rather force a strike and waste taxpayer’s time and money by challenging the validity of the Essential Services Agreement, rather than bargain fairly with paramedics,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to the National President who will be in the city Tuesday to meet with members.
The union intends to follow the existing Essential Service Agreement, as agreed to by both parties in the expired collective agreement, but the employer has notified the Union that they intend to challenge the validity of the agreement, wasting time and resources that would be better spent at the bargaining table.
There will be a reduction in EMS services if a deal is not reached by midnight Feb. 28, 2018.
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.