TORONTO, Jan. 26, 2022 /CNW/ - Ontario Public Service (OPS) employees have voted by 76.9 per cent to accept a new collective agreement with the provincial government.
The three-year deal covers some 26,000 members of the union's OPS Unified Division, which groups all direct provincial government employees except for corrections workers. OPSEU/SEFPO represents the workers.
"The bargaining team has scored a large number of gains, and I'm extremely proud of their hard work at the table," said OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "This deal recognizes the contributions of Ontario's professional public workforce in a time of crisis."
Under the agreement, employees made significant improvements, including increases to paramedical benefits, and a health care spending account. Other non-monetary improvements include seniority calculations for fixed-term employees and new language allowing for a review of the agreement through an equity lens to identify systemic barriers and remove them.
Bill 124 limits wage increases to one per cent annually. OPSEU/SEFPO has launched a Charter challenge of the bill, and a reopening clause is part of the agreement, should the challenge succeed. Coleen Houlder, the bargaining team's chair, said OPS Unified members had seen past the wage cap.
"This new contract is a good deal, especially given these tough bargaining times," said Houlder. "It comes with plenty of gains that will stand us in good stead for future bargaining, once things are back to normal. I'm proud of our work and proud of our members."
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida is happy that OPS Unified members can look forward to three years of labour peace.
"With all the upheaval the pandemic has caused, at least our hardworking members have one less worry," he said. "They can focus totally on the important work of rebuilding Ontario."
Thomas expressed his appreciation for public servants' work and their solidarity with the bargaining team.
"Accepting this deal was the smart thing to do in these unsettled economic times," said Thomas. "This agreement is an excellent step forward as we continue to make gains in the workplace for our members."
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO)
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