After 129 days, a strike by workers at a Thunder Bay, Ont., clinic has come to an end.

The strike at the Port Arthur Health Clinic began on April 9. Unifor Local 229, which represents the employees, and clinic management restarted talks on Tuesday.

That produced a tentative agreement, which was ratified by union members on Tuesday evening, and then by the clinic’s board on Wednesday. The two sides then spent most of Wednesday negotiating a back-to-work protocol, which governs how and when the employees will return to the job.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias said the protocol will be signed Thursday, and he expects the employees will be back at work by early next week, at the latest.

“It was a long time coming,” Dias told CBC Thunder Bay’s Superior Morning on Thursday. “This is the best thing for our members, it’s the best thing for the clinic, and it’s by far the best thing for the community, so I’m quite pleased this morning.”

Dias said the new agreement includes wage increases and benefit improvements for the employees (there is some discrepancy in terms of the number of employees who were involved in the strike — the clinic says the agreement affects 57 people, while the union maintains the number is 65, with Dias saying no employees left their jobs during the strike, to the best of his knowledge).
“The bottom line is, I think what was attained is a willingness on both sides to get back to work and to repair this incredibly-fractured relationship,” Dias said. “That has to be the starting point.”

The strike got heated, particularly last week, when the union advised the public and clinic management of its intention to shut the clinic down to pressure the clinic to resume negotiations.

Pickets and supporters surrounded the clinic on Aug. 8, and a temporary fence was set up, preventing people from accessing the clinic. The move effectively shut the clinic down for three days, as management attempted to get a court injunction to stop picketers from preventing anyone from accessing the clinic, and limit their ability to picket on clinic property.

A temporary injunction was granted, with the injunction scheduled to be argued in court on Aug. 10. However, when the two sides returned to court, they instead met behind closed doors to discuss the strike, which led to Tuesday’s formal negotiations.

Thunder Bay police also became involved after a man leaving the clinic with his daughter was allegedly struck in the face by male picketer on Aug. 7.

Police also responded to an alarm at the clinic just before 6 a.m. on Aug. 10. There, officers found an electrical box on the outside of the building which had allegedly been tampered with, causing a loss of power to the clinic.

Dias said the union and clinic management will now have regular meetings “so that this type of animosity doesn’t build over time.”

He said those meetings were written into the newly-signed collective agreement: the two sides will hold at least four “major” meetings each year, Dias said.

Pop Up Protest Wednesday July 25

Please join us for a POP UP PROTEST “500 STRONG” in support of the 65 Striking Women of the Port Arthur Health Centre. To date the Doctors/Owners of the PAHC have ignored the request by their union Unifor to sit down and negotiate a fair contract. They have been on strike for over 100 days. This is not who we are as a city, this is not who we are as employers. We hope to gather 500 strong voices to let the Doctors/Owners know that enough is enough. Get back to the job of healing not holding these women hostage. Please wear RED to show that our hearts are bleeding for these fine women.

Weekly event planned for striking Port Arthur Health Centre workers

Demonstrations to take place each Monday until management gets back to bargaining table

Supporters of the striking workers at the Port Arthur Health Centre in Thunder Bay, Ont., will begin a series of weekly actions on Monday aimed at calling the clinic’s doctors to the bargaining table.

The events, dubbed The Longest Picket Line in the World, will take place each Monday at midday outside the centre, where members of Unifor Local 229 have been on the picket line since April 9.

The union represents 65 staff members at the clinic, including appointment secretaries, medical aides and medical records staff.

All of them are women.

Two thirds of the women working at the centre are casual workers, according to the union, meaning they have no guaranteed hours of work from week to week. Wages are so low, the union said, that nearly 65 per cent of the employees will see an increase when the minimum wage goes up in January.
Organizers of the weekly actions chose a time frame of noon to 2:00 p.m. because that’s when both the physicians who employ the striking workers and the temporary employees taking their places take their lunch breaks, said organizer Lori Paras.

“We want to be there to see their faces and show them that we’re concerned about what they’re doing to these ladies,” she said.

The first event will include a hot dog BBQ, courtesy of a pair of donors who contributed hot dogs, fixings, coffee and juice, Paras said.

Lori Paras helped organize the Monday demonstrations in support of the striking workers. She said the events will continue until the doctors sit down to negotiate with their employees. Paras previously organized a walk in support of the striking workers, which took place on June 25.

She decided to keep the pressure on after learning that the action did not result in any talks.

“The doctors did not reach out, ask to sit down, follow up, nothing,” Paras said. “So we decided, well, if you’re not going to answer with that knock on the door, we’re going to knock on the door again, this time a little bit harder, by showing up and picketing with them and showing them our support.”

The protests will continue until the doctors sit down with the employees, she added.

Supreme Court Rules 5-4 In Janus Union Fees Case

Could this happen here in Canada?

The conservative majority of the Supreme Court delivered a sweeping and historic blow to the labor movement Wednesday, ruling that public sector workers who are represented by unions cannot be required to pay any union dues.

The 5-4 decision in the case, Janus v. the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, effectively makes the entire U.S. public sector a “right-to-work” zone. As a result, millions of public employees will have the choice to no longer support unions that must continue to bargain on their behalf.

Janus, as the case is known, was widely seen as the biggest judicial threat to organized labor in years, if not decades. The ruling in favor of Mark Janus, an Illinois state employee, has the potential to squeeze some of the largest and most powerful unions in the country, reducing their clout in the workplace as well as in national and local politics.

The case centered around what are known as “fair share” or “agency” fees. In the United States, a union must represent all the workers in a particular bargaining unit, even those who don’t want a union. While no one can be required to be a full-fledged union member, many states have allowed for contracts stipulating that all workers in the bargaining unit must chip in to cover the costs of bargaining and representation. These agency fees amount to normal union dues minus the portion that the union would devote to politics.

Janus, a child support specialist with the state’s health department, claimed that having to pay agency fees to AFSCME still amounted to “compelled speech,” even if the money wasn’t going directly to political ends. Under his argument, public sector unionism is an inherently political activity, since the salaries and benefits that the unions bargain for impact state budgets and the use of taxpayer dollars. Therefore, the reasoning goes, public workers should not have to pay any union fees if they don’t want to, on First Amendment grounds.

The original Janus lawsuit was filed by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R). But a lower court determined that Rauner didn’t have standing in the case because he’s not a union member, so Janus intervened with the help of conservative legal groups. As Janus’ lawyer previously told HuffPost, Janus didn’t want to support AFSCME because the union’s salary and benefit demands for workers like himself “would impose an unreasonable financial burden on the state.”

Even though the Supreme Court had previously upheld the constitutionality of agency fees, in the landmark 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the court’s conservatives upended that precedent with the Janus decision.

Allowing workers to opt out of agency fees leads to what unions call the “free-riding” problem. A worker can choose not to pay them but still reap the benefits of the union’s bargaining and grievance process. A downward spiral can ensue: As more workers decide not to support the union, the union becomes less effective, giving more workers reason to bow out.

“It’s a collective action problem,” Martin Malin, a labor law expert at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, explained to HuffPost earlier this year. “It’s a rational decision ― even for someone who wants to be represented in collective bargaining ― to not become a member, because their dues won’t make any [noticeable] difference, and the benefits of collective bargaining are collective goods.”

This collective action problem already exists in so-called right-to-work states, which bar contracts between employers and unions that require everyone in the unit to pay fees to the union. Twenty-eight states and counting currently have such laws on the books; the Janus ruling will affect the estimated 5 million public sector jobs in the other 22 states and the District of Columbia.

The same conservative groups that have been pushing right-to-work laws around the country have been laying the groundwork for a Janus ruling for years. Their wish nearly came true two years ago, when the Supreme Court considered a similar case involving a group of public school teachers in California.

The 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia led to a deadlock on the court, buying unions more time. But the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, led to the conservative majority needed to assure a ruling against unions. (President Barack Obama’s liberal nominee, Merrick Garland, had been stonewalled by Senate Republicans for 10 months before Trump’s inauguration.)

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump
Supreme Court rules in favor of non-union workers who are now, as an example, able to support a candidate of his or her choice without having those who control the Union deciding for them. Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!

10:11 AM – Jun 27, 2018
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The likelihood of an adverse ruling has already forced many unions to change the way they operate. The largest unions in the public sector ― the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the Service Employees International Union and AFSCME ― have begun focusing on “internal organizing,” reaching out to workers they represent in order to get them more involved in the union.

There’s a consensus within labor that if public employee unions hope to survive after Janus, they will have to better engage their members and constantly prove the value of being in a union. Unions that do a poor job of representing workers will likely see their numbers decline, perhaps significantly.

The political ramifications of the ruling will be long-lasting. Unions are a pillar of the Democratic Party, steering money to labor-friendly candidates and helping to run Democratic ground games during campaigns. Janus may force some unions to cut back on political spending as they steer resources toward maintaining their membership levels.

If that’s the case, Republican candidates stand to benefit. As a recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research showed, right-to-work laws tend to drive down votes for Democratic candidates for office. Comparing presidential election results in adjacent counties across state lines, the bureau’s researchers found that the Democrat’s share of the vote fell by 3.5 percentage points after a right-to-work law went into effect.

Janus v. AFSCME by Anonymous FBZLGr on Scribd

Longest Picket Line Ever in Thunder Bay! Monday, July 9

LONGEST PICKET LINE EVER!!! We are providing you lunch as we picket on Monday, July 9, 2018 from Noon – 2 pm in support of the Women of the Port Arthur Health Centre . This picket line has to get long, very long. We can not give up fighting for these women. We will come face to face that day with the Doctors and scabs who are causing our women great distress. To date, the administration have not contacted Unifor to start a fair negotiation. You can also picket any other time that day or any day before the Longest Picket Line Ever Event. Placards are in the strike trailer.Just ask one of the gals on the site. Please invite your friends and family and coworkers to join us for a picketing lunch date.

location –
Port Arthur Health Centre
194 Court St N, Thunder Bay, Ontario P7A 4V7

Solidarity with women and a living wage! Solidarité avec les femmes et un salaire minimum vital!

There are 65 women on strike in Thunder Bay at Port Arthur Health Centre and this short video tells their story. It is yet again, another reminder of pay inequality and precarious contract work that women workers face. We need active intervention and solidarity to tell the Port Arthur Health Centre – enough is enough. Email the Centre’s CEO at jmarrello@paclinic.com or call 807-346-6254 and ask the employer to get back to bargaining and make a fair offer. #ISupportFairWorkPAHC

Il y a 65 femmes en grève à Thunder Bay au Centre de santé Port Arthur, et cette courte vidéo raconte leur histoire. Cette situation nous rappelle encore l’inégalité salariale et les contrats de travail précaires que connaissent ces travailleuses. Nous avons besoin d’une intervention vigoureuse et d’exprimer notre solidarité pour dire au Centre de santé Port Arthur : ça suffit! Écrivez un courriel au PDG du Centre à jmarrello@paclinic.com ou téléphonez au 807-346-6254, et demandez à l’employeur de revenir négocier et de faire une offre équitable. #JappuieEmploiDécentCSPA

Port Arthur Health Centre

Why has the Port Arthur Health Centre forced 65 women
workers out on strike?

• Only 22 out of 65 workers are permanent full time, the rest of the workers,
some with 15 years of service are still casuals.
• Lowest paid health clinic staff in Thunder Bay and in all of Ontario
• Patients are being bullied into attending appointments and some doctors are
illegally billing patients for missed appointments
• PAHC is one of the oldest and biggest private for-profit health clinics in
Thunder Bay
• No new offer, there has been no offer by the employer who forced them out
on strike on April 9, 2018
• Your doctor and every doctor in the Port Arthur Health Centre is an owner,
therefore they are responsible for the low wages and poor working
conditions of these women
• When you cross the picket line, the doctor gets paid
• The doctors have hired scab or replacement workers to do this work
• Your private and confidential medical records are being left on counters or
the names of all patients are posted publicly on the wall of the clinic
• Who is sterilizing the instruments and machines your doctor is using?

What are you doing to support the women who have been providing support to
you and your family? Please call or email your MPP and ask them to help stop
the strike at the numbers listed below.
Thunder Bay-Atikokan- MPP Bill Mauro
bmauro.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org 807-623-9237

Thunder Bay Superior North- MPP Michael Gravelle
mgravelle.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org 807-345-3647

Call John Marrello the manager of Port Arthur Health Centre
jmarrello@paclinic.com 807-346-6254

Call the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons
1-800-268-7096

Port Arthur Health Centre

Our sisters on strike at the Port Arthur Health Centre
need some support, if you are a worker or a union
member, please come out and support our sisters.
Joins us for a rally on
Thursday May 10, 2018 from 4:30 pm-6:30 pm
at the Port Arthur Health Centre on the corner
of Court and River Street. Parking is available at
Our Saviors Church on the corner of River and
Ferrand Street.

Key issues include
• violence on the picket line toward our strikers
• scab workers crossing the picket line to work everyday
• doctors and clinic management are spreading rumours and fake news
• this is a private-for-profit doctor owned clinic now charging and
bullying patients to not cancel their appointments
• there has been no new offer since prior to when the workers
were forced out on strike on April 9, 2018