Parry Sound medical workers negotiate landmark first contract

Settlement gives lowest paid emergency service workers wages and benefit in keeping with provincial standards


Parry Sound (4 August 2006) - How much is a union worth?

Ask the workers employed by Parry Sound District Emergency Medical Services. They've just negotiated a first collective agreement providing increases of 52% for paramedics and 73% for communications officers.

The new bargaining unit also achieved improvements in job security, shift premiums and meal allowances, as well as a top-up in parental leave arrangements. The settlement also provides general recognition for the "24/7" nature of the unit's work.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) says the ground-breaking contract covers 65 employees. It is retroactive to April 1, 2004, and expires on Dec. 31, 2007. Pay increases will take place in stages over the life of the contract.

Previously, says OPSEU negotiator Don Stewart, the employees were among the lowest paid paramedics in the province. The increases acknowledge the longstanding gap and "bring these employees to a provincial standard that already exists," he noted.

“We were able to achieve considerable gains in almost all important areas over the previous contracts,” Stewart adds.

“Most importantly, we gained the right for land ambulance employees to have a separate and distinct agreement from the rest of the hospital employees. “It is always better for the employees if you can focus on distinct groups with common interests in bargaining,” he added.

Emergency medical services in West Parry Sound, South River-Machar, Powassan, Burk’s Falls and Argyle were amalgamated in 2004. NUPGE