Volunteer firefighters to vote on joining union
Sudbury officials worried the firefighters could go on strike
Posted: Feb 11, 2013 3:04 PM ET
Last Updated: Feb 11, 2013 3:00 PM ET
Volunteer firefighters in Greater Sudbury are expected to decide this week if they want to join a union.
The Christian Labour Association of Canada is looking to organize the 300 part-time firefighters, who mainly work in the outlying areas of the city.
Union representative Carla Geldof said volunteers in Hamilton, Belleville and other Ontario cities have already organized. She noted there are some common issues that drive them to join a union.
"For a lot of the departments, the challenges are amalgamation,” Geldof said.
“A lot of smaller municipalities get bundled up into one and there's a lot of change and how do we keep that [service] consistent."
Geldof noted that, unlike their full-time counterparts, volunteers would technically have the right to strike.
But she said she believes that reality is very unlikely.
"A volunteer firefighter has a huge sense of commitment to his community and the last thing he wants to do is tell his neighbours, I'm sorry, but I'm on strike,” Geldof said. “That's not something anybody wants to do."
Greater Sudbury city officials have questioned whether volunteer firefighters would be legally able to strike, but they encourage all the volunteers to cast a ballot in the certification vote to make sure a binding decision is made — one way or another.
A certification vote is expected to be held this week. A majority of Sudbury's volunteer firefighters need to vote yes, before the results are sent to the Ontario Labour Relations Board for approval.
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