Public health nurses at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit picketed at Windsor City Hall. Feb 25, 2018. (Photo by Paul Pedro)

Local public health nurses could hit the picket lines in two weeks

Public health nurses at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit picketed at Windsor City Hall on Monday before the council meeting to make the public aware of an impending strike on March 8.

Barb Deter, the health unit bargaining representative for the Ontario Nurses Association, said management at the health unit recently walked away from the bargaining table and refuses to address fair wages. Deter hopes cooler heads prevail at Thursday’s mediation session.

“We just want to settle a fair agreement. A fair and equitable and respectful collective agreement,” said Deter.

Public health nurses at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit picketed at Windsor City Hall. Feb 25, 2018. (Photo by Paul Pedro)

Public health nurses at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit picketed at Windsor City Hall. Feb 25, 2018. (Photo by Paul Pedro)

Deter said the local health unit has never walked away from bargaining before.

The Windsor-Essex County Health unit has 86 nurses dealing with several illnesses and delivering several community programs. Deter said the nurses deal with outbreaks, tuberculosis, and a rising number of syphilis cases.

Deter said the nurses remain optimistic that a deal will get done.

“We don’t want to go on strike. We want to keep working and service the residents of Windsor and Essex County,” she said.

Deter can’t say how far apart both sides are but added this type of impasse is new.

“We have gone through a lot of negotiations and we have never had this problem before. There’s always been a good relationship in talking and trying to work things out and I don’t know the reason right now,” Deter added.

The nurses have been without a contract since April of 2018.