Media Advisory: Stop the wave of intimidation, employee firings, CUPE urges St. Mike’s; media conference with affected staff, Thursday

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TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Dec. 6, 2017) – Terminations of long-time employees without cause. Violations of basic employment standards using aggressive tactics to force staff to sign agreements to work excess hours and work eight and ten days in a row. All shocking behaviour associated with employers with tarnished reputations. But this is happening at Toronto's prestigious St. Michael's Hospital (St. Mike's) now merging with two other Catholic city hospitals (St. Joseph's and Providence). Thousands of employees at all three hospitals are affected by the restructuring.

Applications have been made to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) which will ultimately reconfigure bargaining units. Also, non-union employees at the hospitals will be able to decide whether to join a union. This includes 700 clerical staff at St. Mike's.

“We are calling on St. Mike's to step back and let that process unfold. The wave of employee intimidation that's creating a hostile work environment at a time of great uncertainty for staff at the hospital, must stop,” says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), the hospital division of CUPE Ontario.

Last week, following what's best described as “captive audience meetings,” the hospital terminated several non-union employees in the clerical department – who, as a group, have shown interest in joining a union. Staff have also been pressured to sign agreements consenting to work longer hours than is the norm under Ontario employment standards. Affected staff have described these actions to CUPE as “overt intimidation” on the part of the hospital.

Debbie Red-Marsden, a 15-year clerical employee with an unblemished performance record, is one of those fired by the hospital.

“Ms. Red-Marsden was unceremoniously escorted out of the building for all other employees to see,” says Hurley. Is the hospital targeting this particular group of mostly female employees who have no workplace representation, or is this the normal labour relations practice of one of Toronto's largest hospitals?”

Red-Marsden will join Hurley for a media conference on Thursday, December 7 (2017) at 11:00 a.m. at Queen Street East and Bond Street (the southwest corner adjacent to St. Michael's Hospital).

“If the merger of these three hospitals is to succeed, it's imperative that the St. Michael's board intervene to rescind these terminations and allow the process under Ontario labour law to unfold on behalf of the affected employees without interference,” says Hurley.

CUPE represents over 40,000 hospital staff province-wide, including 1,600 nurses, administrative and clerical staff, personal support workers, porters and cleaners, at St. Joseph's Health Centre and Providence Healthcare.

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