Hawkesbury Volunteer Firefighters solidify gains in new contract

Hawkesbury Volunteer Firefighters in Eastern Ontario have ratified a new collective agreement that provides across-the-board 2% wage increases.

The HVFF, members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 6565-3, approved the new deal on Nov. 26, by a majority vote. The deal was approved by the employer, the Town of Hawkesbury municipal council, on Nov. 29, 2021.

In addition to fighting fires in the community on an on-call basis, the 20 members work in fire prevention, community education and also perform work assessing 911 calls in medical situations to determine what appropriate response to emergencies.

In addition to wage increases, the one-year contract makes improvements in the agreement to clarify the grievance timelines; and spell out that the USW Unit Chair is entitled to time to provide union orientation to new hires.

At the same time, full-time firefighters in another union are currently in an arbitration process for a new contract with the municipality. As the terms of that contract could have an impact on compensation and working conditions for USW member volunteer firefighters, the bargaining committee sought a short, one-year contract, rather than lock in terms for a longer period.

“The committee worked hard to prepare for bargaining. That helped make the process a collaborative and respectful one with the employer,” said Stephane Constantineau, USW Local 6565-3 Unit Chair.

“These volunteer firefighters are life-savers in their community, providing emergency services with great skill and commitment,” said Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

“Having volunteer firefighters in the ranks of the Steelworkers is an example of the diversity of workers within the union,” said Warren, noting the USW also represents volunteer firefighters in Champlain Township in eastern Ontario, Kirkland Lake, Port Hope, Welland and Thorold, Ont.

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For further information:

Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director, 416-243-8792
Eric Fournier, USW Staff Representative, 613-872-1416, efournier@usw.ca
Shannon Devine, USW Communications, 416-894-7118 (cell), sdevine@usw.ca

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