LifeLabs brings new blood to OPSEU

This group of LifeLabs professionals is the first in Ontario to be unionized.

Barrie (27 Oct. 2017) — Seventy-five LifeLabs employees who work as lab technologists, technicians, assistants, phlebotomists (blood collectors), and support staff in north Simcoe County have voted to join the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE). They work out of 11 locations, including Barrie, Orillia, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Stayner, and CFB Borden.

Workers unionize with OPSEU/NUPGE to improve wages, working conditions 

“During our organizing drive, it became clear that these employees have had enough of being underpaid,” said Sean Allen, Chair of OPSEU’s Canadian Blood Services and Diagnostics Division. “They were also unhappy with poor working conditions and the way management lacked respect for their qualifications or appreciation for their contributions to the success of the company.”

Allen said that workers had met resistance from management around organizing. This group of LifeLabs professionals is the first in Ontario to be unionized.

“LifeLabs employs over 800 people in Toronto alone,” he said, “so I understand why the employer wouldn’t want an example set of workers who were prepared to stand up for themselves and unionize.”

OPSEU/NUPGE has stellar reputation for representing health care workers

When it came time to look for a union, LifeLabs employees chose OPSEU/NUPGE for good reasons, said Sara Labelle, Regional Vice-President for OPSEU Region 3, which includes Orillia, Parry Sound, Peterborough.

“They knew that OPSEU/NUPGE already represented thousands of diagnostics workers,” she noted. “They were also aware of our track record of achieving significant gains in workplaces across the sector. As such, they were confident that OPSEU/NUPGE was the best union to meet their needs.”

Organizing a union sends strong message to employer, bargaining to begin for first contract

Warren (Smokey) Thomas,OPSEU President, said he was proud of the union’s newest members. “These workers are highly motivated, determined, and courageous. They stayed the course during the organizing drive and they sent a strong message to their employer."

“Now we can focus on achieving a first collective agreement that gives them a permanent voice in the workplace. Given their proven stick-to-itiveness, I’m very optimistic about the future," said Thomas.

LifeLabs is a Canadian-owned, private for-profit medical laboratory services company. It provides patients and health care providers convenient access to diagnostic laboratory services and is primarily funded by OHIP. LifeLabs performs more than 100 million laboratory tests every year, helping health care providers diagnose, treat, monitor, and prevent disease in patients.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE