Leaders with the Ontario Nurses Association say the latest talks to negotiate a contract with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit have failed.

ONA President Vicki McKenna claims negotiators with the Health Unit had no intention of bargaining good faith and walked away from the table in less than hour on Wednesday morning. 

86 nurse practitioners, public health nurses and registered practical nurses have been on the picket line since March 8 to back demands for more money.

McKenna says her members are looking for an equitable collective agreement and their employer has refused to negotiate a respectful wage increase which is in line with male professionals in the municipality.

“Our highly educated nurses are alarmed that the employer seems willing to continue to risk the health and well-being of this community rather than recognize the value of our members,” says McKenna.

Theresa Marentette, the CEO of the health unit, tells CTV Windsor a sign derailed negotiations.

“The sign said something to the effect that rumour has it that measles was spotted in Windsor,” says Marentette, who confirms that is simply not true.

“it obviously was not meant to scare people,” says ONA bargaining representative Barb Deter, who confirms the sign was removed immediately.

The health unit also released a statement on Wednesday.

“Over the past several days, we have received inquiries from the public with respect to recent measles cases in the United States. We also understand that an individual on the picket line during rush hour this morning was holding a sign suggesting there may be the presence of measles in the Windsor-Essex area.”

Marentette says they continue to closely monitor the situation and remain prepared to address measles and other infectious diseases during the current labour disruption.

“On behalf of our entire team, I wish to sincerely apologize for any fear or confusion that was caused by any misinformation spread on the picket line.”

The ONA says it is “deeply disappointed” talks broke down.

No date has been set to resume negotiations.