Bargaining 101: Spilling the Tea about Hospital Bargaining “We are ready for the proverbial fight”
January 26, 2023
ONA Communications spoke with Rachel Muir, RN, Chair of ONA’s Hospital Central Negotiating Team about why she applied for the team, what she believes she can bring to the table as Chair, and how the team is feeling heading into bargaining the week of January 30.
Why did you apply to become a member of the Hospital Central Negotiating Team?
I was on the 2021 Hospital Central Negotiating Team, and it was an unusual experience because it was all virtual and we were hog-tied because of Bill 124. Our amazing team had put forth some excellent proposals, which we deemed were not impacted by Bill 124. Unfortunately, these proposals were not put into action or accepted.
So, I want to follow through with that experience, and make it very clear to the Ford government that nurses and health-care professionals must be valued, and it is well past time to be respected by this government and our employers. I don’t know whether there is a nurse or health-care professional in Ontario that feels valued at the moment.
Can you describe what you – as a front-line nurse – will bring to the table, representing ONA hospital members?
For more than 30 years, I have been a front-line nurse and the situation in hospitals has just nose-dived with so many problems: short staffing, patient acuity, and more. As Bargaining Unit President at The Ottawa Hospital, I hear every day the enormous challenges and lack of respect nurses and health-care professionals face.
I carry with me what ONA members have gone through, and they need so much in their next collective agreement to begin the healing process as we are morally wounded. The OHA and the hospital CEOs must understand and acknowledge this in our new contract.
You and the HCNT completed a week of orientation. Can you describe how it went and what you learned?
It was a very intense and hard work week. As a team, we carefully reviewed the Have Your Say Survey results, and it confirmed to us that the problems are across the province. For example, if there is a problem in one large Bargaining Unit, it was occurring in the smaller Bargaining Units as well. This was reassuring to know that the problems our members face are province wide.
We put together some pretty amazing asks, and I’m so proud of being part of the HCNT because our proposals are innovative and strong. We are standing up and we are very clear: This is what we are worth, and this is what we expect!
After years of being undervalued and being in a position to have to ‘take it’ because of Bill 124, we are in a situation where hospitals desperately need us. Whether they like it or not, they need us, so they need to give our proposals a hard look, open up their wallets and give us what we are demanding.
What is the general feeling of the HCNT going into the first week of bargaining on January 30?
I think we are cautiously optimistic, and we are proud of the proposals we’ve put forward. We are ready for the proverbial fight and to stand up as the strong voice of hospital nurses and health-care professionals. We are going in hard; we are ready for this, and we will do this!