A Brief History
The Canadian Union of Public Employees
(CUPE) hospital sector in Ontario has had centrally coordinated bargaining since approximately 1975. At this time, participating hospital unions paid a modest per capita that sustained our central negotiating team.
In 1981, the central bargaining team representing CUPE hospital workers signed a Memorandum of Settlement that was considered concessionary. A minority of the bargaining team and most of the local presidents campaigned to have the memorandum rejected. 98% of members voted against it.
Regardless, the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) refused to bargain any revisions to the Memorandum. At this time, CUPE hospital members took the unprecedented step of striking illegally in 65 locals across the province.
The strikes lasted between seven to ten days depending on the community. On the tenth day, the courts ordered everyone back to work.
In 1982, CUPE hospital workers created the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE. OCHU was created primarily as a bargaining council to ensure that our membership exerted direct control over negotiations.Who we are today
Today, the membership of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) includes 21,000 CUPE hospital, long-term care, ambulance and central laundry workers in 120 bargaining units across Ontario.
OCHU bargains a central collective agreement
, coordinates grievances related to centrally negotiated language, conducts campaigns in defense of a universally accessible, public healthcare system, and assists with organizing drives throughout the province. OCHU often works with other unions and community coalitions to support and coordinate joint campaigns in the health care sector.
OCHU also co-ordinates arbitrations for grievances that have provincial implications and arranges educationals
on a variety of topics for the executive and membership in conjunction with CUPE’s Union Development branch.
The OCHU Secretary-Treasurer and First Vice-President sit on the Board of the Hospitals of Ontario Pension Plan
(HOOPP), representing CUPE’s plan members.
OCHU has several occupational and issue- oriented committees which include: Health and Safety
, Registered Practical Nurses’ (RPN)
, Continuing Care/Long-term Care
and Paramedical workers committees.
OCHU has divided the province of Ontario into seven regional areas. A Vice President and Alternate Vice President are then elected from each area. Thus, the OCHU Executive is comprised of these seven elected regional Vice-Presidents, seven elected regional Alternate Vice Presidents, as well as one elected Francophone Vice President and a full-time Secretary-Treasurer and President.
The Central Bargaining Committee of CUPE hospital workers in Ontario is comprised of the seven elected regional Vice Presidents as well as the Secretary Treasurer and President, which negotiates a master contract with the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA).
OCHU Executive members also assist in negotiations with individual locals and their respective employers who refuse to participate in central bargaining. The OCHU Executive and members are supported by CUPE with 2.5 full-time researchers and one full-time CUPE health care coordinator. Please see the list of the current OCHU Executive members
Sixty-five local unions and their members direct the OCHU Executive through delegated provincial conferences, regional meetings and through provincial membership voting. Please see Bargaining & Regional Meetings
and our Events calendar
for the latest OCHU conferences and meetings in your area.Central Bargaining
The Ontario Hospital Association
(OHA) is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health
to bargain provincially with the major unions in the hospital sector: the Ontario Nurses Association
, the Canadian Union of Public Employees
, the Service Employees International Union
and the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union
Bargaining unit of each union and their respective employers can choose to bargain provincially at a single table. For CUPE, approximately 25,000 employees at 80 hospitals across the province are included in negotiations of three master collective agreements: one for combined full and part time units, one for full time employees only and one for part time only units.
There are only four CUPE organized work places which do not participate in central bargaining with the Ontario Hospital Association and three of these units follow the central settlement.
Hospital employers and local union representatives elect central bargaining teams, which conduct the negotiations. CUPE units have the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions as the bargaining agent in negotiations.
The first step in negotiations is to agree on a Memorandum of Conditions for Joint Bargaining
. This Memorandum outlines the timetable for central and local negotiations, identifies the issues that are to be bargained provincially and locally, distinguishes the units and employers who are participating and indicates how unresolved issues will be dealt with.
Following the development of this Memorandum of Conditions, bargaining proposals are then exchanged face-to-face. Unresolved issues are usually referred to arbitration, by an independent third party.
For more detail on our membership, organizational purpose and structure, please read the OCHU bylaws