We Won't Get Fooled Again!

Hi Everyone,

We are aware that CLAC has started a campaign to try and get Conmed employees to leave the United Steelworkers and rejoin CLAC. Here is a brief history recap of the last two years for those who lived through it and for those who don’t know.

In 2021, the United Steelworkers Union (USW) was contacted by workers from Conmed as they were upset with the representation that they had received from their Union – CLAC. In response, the USW conducted an organizing campaign and the workers from Conmed voted to oust CLAC and bring in the USW as the bargaining agent.

In just under two years, we have accomplished so much together. We started by getting the local Union up and running.  You nominated and elected the people that you wanted to have represent you in the workplace.  We have trained Union Stewards to help represent our members, and their training is ongoing.  We have established by-laws for the local Union to abide by and we have conducted regular monthly meetings in multiple locations to keep members informed. We have also implemented a mass texting system and a local Union website to keep our members up to date.

We went through Collective Bargaining and received an award through the binding arbitration process (HLDAA).  This was necessary because the employer was offering low ball increases to wages.  In addition to the 2.2% and 3% general wage increases we received, we also achieved:

  • a new night shift premium
  • eliminated the requirement to rotate on afternoon/evening shift
  • three wage increases for RNs over the term
  • a lump sum to RNs to compensate for a period during which they were not covered by a collective agreement
  • a special wage adjustment for RPNs
  • a special wage adjustment for dietary aides
  • increases in lieu
  • increased weekend premium
  • increased orientation premium
  • decreased wage reduction for probationary employees
  • increased vision benefit
  • increased life insurance and AD&D benefit
  • extended the application of bereavement leave.

The last deal that CLAC received for you (also done through HLDAA arbitration) only saw a wage increase of 1.5% in each of the two years of the agreement. So, yes, our members have received better wages since being represented by the USW.

CLAC had been sitting on a grievance regarding vacation pay for a few years. The USW took that grievance to arbitration, and won.  Some members were upset that the backpay for that grievance wasn’t higher.  As justification for limiting the amount of retroactive pay awarded, the arbitrator that heard the case commented, “I accept that the predecessor union was aware of the vacation pay calculation and raised no objection for many years.” After reading that statement, some of our members came forward questioning how they could go about “suing” CLAC for lost wages. 

In addition to the vacation pay grievance, the USW pursued an unfair labour practice charge against the employer, when the employer refused to pay retiring employees pension money that they were owed. Through our efforts, those members received the money that they were entitled to.  All of this is in addition to dozens and dozens of grievances that have been filed on behalf of our members for the last two years. 

We all know that there is strength in numbers.  The USW is connected with the Ontario Health Coalition and your local Union has also joined the District 6 Health Care Council. These connections make your local Union more knowledgeable and stronger for members. The USW is also a member of the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress. CLAC doesn’t have any of these connections. 

Finally – if you want to know what kind of representation you’ve been receiving, don’t take CLAC’s word for it.  Ask people who know.  Talk to a member of your local Union executive. 

Don’t get fooled again! If you’ve been around for a while, you know why you left.  If you’re new, don’t fall for the propaganda from CLAC.  Attend your meetings! As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. 

In Solidarity, 

John Catto

USW Staff Representative