Karen Bertrand, Region 5 vice-president of the Ontario Nurses Association, shows off the petitions the union delivered to Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara at Tecumseh Town Hall, April 12, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

UPDATE: Nurses union petitions county warden to end strike

The union representing striking public health nurses in Windsor-Essex is petitioning the county warden to bring an end to the labour impasse.

Representatives from the Ontario Nurses Association and the Canadian Federation of Nurses appeared Friday morning at Tecumseh Town Hall with a stack of petitions, hoping to meet with Mayor Gary McNamara, who is also the Essex County warden and the chair of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit board. A thousand signatures have been collected from members of the public, urging an end to the strike that has just entered its sixth week.

Karen Bertrand, Section 5 vice-president of the ONA, had just one request for McNamara.

“Give the public health unit and their CEO a new mandate, so that they can enter a fair collective agreement that respects these nurses,” said Bertrand.

Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses, made the trip to Tecumseh along with Brian Hogan of the Windsor and District Labour Council. Silas is fresh off a trip to Saskatchewan, where she helped raise $52,000 to help the striking Windsor-Essex nurses.

“We have single mothers here.  We have small families close to retirement who are suffering and they need a little bit of help,” said Silas. “This is week number-six, and it’s pure craziness in mind to have so many nurses out on strike.”

The 86 public health nurses walked off the job in early March in a dispute over a fair wage.

McNamara had been in a meeting when the delegation arrived but left the building without seeing them due to previous commitments. He did tell reporters at an event Friday afternoon that he would love to have the nurses back, but based on Thursday’s budget news, there needs to be some give and take.

“We have given them three offers, they’ve turned them all down,” said McNamara. “If they were paying attention to the Minister of Finance yesterday, it’s pretty clear that there is no money in that regards.”