Nurses Reject Latest Health Unit Contract Offer

A strike by 86 nurses at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is now into week number five with no sign of it ending anytime soon.

The nurses, represented by Ontario Nurses Association Local 8, have rejected management's most recent offer, presented Wednesday.

"Our employer did not offer any meaningful improvements," says Bargaining Unit President Barb Deter. "To be clear, their disrespectful offer wouldn't even cover the increase in the cost of living nurses will experience this year. We took their latest offer to the membership and it was roundly rejected."  Deter describes the vote as "a significant vote of confidence in our bargaining team."

Deter says they will continue to fight for a collective agreement that reflects their true value to the community.

It's the second offer the striking nurses have rejected this month alone.

Health Unit CEO and Chief Nursing Officer, Theresa Marentette said in a release " We were very disappointed to learn that public health nurses once again rejected the offer, which contained a further increase over our previous offer. The offer on the table was fair to our public health nurses, while at the same time responsible, in light of the very real cost pressures we are facing due to the growing demand for services in our region."

"Our top priority remains ensuring the health and well-being of the residents of Windsor-Essex County," says Marentette. "Despite the ongoing labour disruption, management is doing everything it can to ensure that essential services are delivered to the community."

Ontario Nurses Association President Vicki McKenna says "if this employer believes that dragging this strike out will weaken these nurses' position, they are wrong. Yesterday's vote demonstrates that they have grown stronger."

The nurse practitioners, public health nurses and registered practical nurses have been on strike since March 8.

Money remains the main issue.