Members of Unifor Local 2458 picket outside Medical Laboratories of Windsor's Ouellette lab on October 2, 2017. Photo courtesy of Unifor Local 2458/Facebook.

Rally for Striking Lab Workers Set for Tuesday

Union members will show solidarity for striking lab workers Tuesday morning.

Various locals and union members from across Windsor-Essex will rally at 7am outside the main branch of Medical Laboratories of Windsor on Ouellette Ave. The purpose of the rally is to show support for roughly 90 lab employees who have been on strike for over a week. The strike is affecting operations at their 11 labs across Windsor-Essex.

Unifor Local 2458 represents the laboratory employees, and the main sticking point in the labour impasse has been wages, according to Local 2458 secretary and treasurer Tullio DiPonti.

“Imagine having people who draw your blood and do all kinds of different samples for us when we go to the labs making $12.50 an hour,” says DiPonti.

DiPonti says lab assistants at Medical Laboratories are starting at that rate of pay, while those doing the same work at a hospital start at close to $20 an hour. Lab technologists, who analyze specimens for patients, start at $20.50 an hour at Medical Laboratories while those working at hospitals start near $30 an hour.

An agreement was previously reached between lab management and the union members, but the membership voted it down, triggering the walkout. The lab employees had been working without a contract since March of this year.

DiPonti says the union is ready to go back to bargaining at any time.

“We’re always ready to bargain, we’re always ready to go back to the table,” says DiPonti. “Obviously we did tell them what the membership wanted. They (the membership) turned down the last tentative so we have to do a lot better than they did before.”

The Medical Laboratories on Ouellette had been the only lab open for patients until Friday afternoon, according to DiPonti, when the lab at Tecumseh Medical Centre was also opened. All other lab locations are closed.

DiPonti says union members picketing the flagship location are there for information purposes and will not turn patients away who need lab work done. However, members will inform patients of other labs that will take care of their needs. DiPonti says members have received positive feedback and support from those patients.