Vote 65 per cent in favour of joining the Christian Labour Association of Canada
“I am pleased to report that by a vote of 176-92, the volunteer firefighters of the Greater City of Sudbury have voted to join the Christian Labour Association of Canada,” wrote CLAC spokesperson Carla Geldof in an email late Feb. 12.
Sudbury’s volunteer firefighters respond to emergency calls in areas of Greater Sudbury not serviced by full-time firefighters. According to a press release from the union, “they have been struggling for some time with concerns over health and safety, communication with management, and policy and procedure issues”
The Sudbury volunteer firefighters join the nearly 500 volunteer firefighters already represented by CLAC in Bellville, Hamilton, and Quinte West.
CLAC is an independent Canadian labour union representing more than 55,000 workers in a wide range of sectors ― construction, healthcare, retail, service, transportation, manufacturing, and others.
Under Ontario law, to unionize more than 50 per cent of those who vote have to vote yes. In an interview Feb. 8, Kevin Fowke, the city’s director of human resources, said volunteer firefighters in Sudbury work out of about 25 stations and are paid on a scale depending on whether they are a district chief, a captain or a volunteer firefighter. They are paid between $23 and $27 an hour for fighting fires or training.
They work under what’s called the Volunteer Firefighters Accord, which sets out the terms of reference for their service, as well as their pay scales. They train with captains, at city stations or at the central training facility in Azilda.
Fowke expects that if volunteer do organize, pay increases would be part of negotiations.
“Any unit that certifies in the province of Ontario has a year to negotiate a first collective agreement,” he said. “And I think monetary issues would be part of that.
“The issues we’re aware of with our volunteer firefighters are related to training and communications. But I think there’s every possibility there could be a monetary impact.”