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Huron Perth Public Health workers' union heads back to conciliation

If a deal cannot be reached, the next step is job action, CUPE Local 1331 says
The Huron Perth Public Health building file photo

The CUPE bargaining committee at Huron Perth Public Health says it is heading into a second conciliation meeting with their employer on Feb. 15 after they say nearly three years of contract talks have failed to produce a deal.

“We are frustrated by how long it has taken to get a first collective agreement as a newly merged Local, and we feel disrespected by the employer,” Pam Hanington, CUPE Local 1331 president said in a news release.

CUPE Local 1331 was formed in July 2020 after the Locals of the former Huron County and Perth District health units merged.

The new Local currently represents more than 70 HPPH employees, including administrative assistants, custodians, dental hygienists, health promoters, IT support technicians, parent resource visitors, public health inspectors, and tobacco enforcement officers.

“We are trying to maintain as much of our predecessor agreements as possible and, at a time when the cost of everything has gone up, we are asking for reasonable increases to wages and benefits," said Hanington.

"The employer has yet to come to the table with a deal that we can confidently take to our members. 

"They have failed to offer us the same wage increases that our HPPH colleagues in ONA and OPSEU received over the last three years.”

HPPH employees represented by CUPE Local 1331 have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2020, the Local said. Bargaining began in the spring of 2021. There has been little progress over the past several months, the union says, and the two sides are now in conciliation.

If a deal cannot be reached, the next step is job action, according to the union.

In September, 93% of members voted in favour of a strike.

“We are dedicated to our work and want to avoid a strike,” said Hanington. “But we are prepared to walk off the job if the employer continues to reject the union’s proposals and does not present a fair deal.”

In addition to wages and benefits, outstanding issues include hours of work, overtime, and leaves of absences such as pregnancy/parental leaves, according to the union.

StratfordToday has reached out to Huron Perth Public Health for comment.