It’s a ‘no’ from public health nurses in Windsor

Striking public health nurses and their supporters at a rally in Windsor, March 15, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

On strike now for a month, public health nurses have rejected the latest offer from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

“We were very disappointed to learn that public health nurses once again rejected the offer, which contained a further increase over our previous offer,” read a release quoting health unit CEO Theresa Marentette. “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.”

It was the second offer the nurses have rejected.

A separate release quotes Barb Deter with the Ontario Nurses Association which represents 86 public health nurses in Windsor.

“Our employer did not offer any meaningful improvements,” she said. “To be clear, their disrespectful offer wouldn’t even cover the increase in the cost of living nurses will experience this year.”

The union has been arguing that nurses should get a raise similar with more male-dominated professions like police officers and firefighters.

“The health unit’s management has barely moved from their position that my colleagues and I, all women, are worth only half as much of an increase in pay as male-dominated groups of municipal workers in 2019,” said Deter.

“If this employer believes that dragging this strike out will weaken these nurses position, they are wrong,” said ONA Provincial President Vicki McKenna. “Yesterday’s vote demonstrates that they have grown stronger.”

Marentette said the health unit’s priority remains ensuring the health and well-being of residents in Windsor-Essex.

“Despite the ongoing labour disruption, management is doing everything it can to ensure that essential services are delivered to the community.”

The nurses have been off the job since March 8.