Kootenay health care workers reject CLAC, join HEU

Bargaining bulletin

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About 250 health care workers at two privately-operated care facilities in the Kootenays have voted to join the Hospital Employees’ Union.

In Nelson, more than 90 care staff – employed by Advocare at Mountain Lake Seniors’ Community – joined HEU as part of a joint campaign with the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) that also included some of the company’s operations in the Okanagan.

In a Labour Relations Board (LRB)-supervised vote counted on Wednesday, workers rejected the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) and voted to join an HEU/ BCGEU “poly-party” bargaining unit.

Once the certification has been confirmed by the LRB, the HEU/BCGEU bargaining unit will negotiate a first collective agreement covering workers at MountainLake and the sites in the Okanagan.

MountainLake is owned by Park Place Seniors, which also operates Pine Grove Care Centre in Kamloops, where workers also rejected CLAC in favour of HEU last year. HEU has since reached a collective agreement for workers at that facility.

In Cranbrook, more than 160 staff at Golden Life’s JosephCreekVillage voted to join the HEU in an LRB ballot also counted this week. The workers provide both support services and direct care to seniors in that community.

In August 2006, the LRB found that Golden Life had intimidated and coerced workers to ratify a CLAC collective agreement. As a result, HEU was given access to workers through work site meetings.

HEU also represents workers and has negotiated a collective agreement at Golden Life’s RockyMountainVillage in Fernie, CrestViewVillage in Creston, and GardenViewVillage in Kimberley.

HEU’s secretary-business manager Judy Darcy welcomed the union’s newest members from the Kootenays to B.C.’s largest health care union.

“These workers have stood up for their democratic right to join a union of their own choice, despite pressure from their employer,” says Darcy.

“We thank them for their courage – and for their vote of confidence in the HEU.”