Let’s make a deal

Bargaining bulletin

Haida health workers want a September tentative contract

Bargaining for the more than 55 HEU XAAYNANGAA NAAY local members made some movement forward during talks on July 31 and August 1 and 3, but there’s still a great deal to do.

Over the three days, the union made several proposals and 22 non-monetary items were settled, and that’s some progress.

However, the employer is still behaving inappropriately, leaving members to wonder once again just how seriously the boss is taking negotiations. On August 2 — a scheduled bargaining day — the employer took the day off to take their high-priced, Vancouver-based, legal counsel fishing.

When the employer representatives were at the table, they made some major proposals that are completely unacceptable including:

  • entrenching the federal Indian Act in the collective agreement;
  • giving the elected Chief Councillor authority to bypass the union, removing the informal dispute mechanism from the contract, and allowing every disagreement to go to a full legal hearing (ensuring expensive legal bills for the employer); and,
  • ignoring their obligation to wage parity (despite three lengthy, expensive hearings where parity was awarded, all the employer’s money has gone into legal expenses).
The Band is also proposing a one-year agreement.

“That would mean that bargaining for a new contract would begin before the ink dries on this one,” says HEU bargaining committee member Ruth Gladstone-Davies. “We need an agreement that provides health care stability for the community and health care workers. A short-term deal won’t do that.”

HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt backed the members’ concerns. “A one-year contract would mean job security and guaranteed pay for one person — the employer’s lawyer,” says Allnutt. “We need a longer agreement based on fairness and respect for health care workers and for the community they serve.”

Negotiations are set to resume early in September. The goal of the local’s bargaining committee is a freely negotiated, not an arbitrated, collective agreement. Gladstone-Davies, Dorothy Russ, and HEU staff representative Kathy Jessome will be ready and willing to settle an agreement at that time. They only hope that the same is true for the employer’s team, Wayne Wilson, Ron Williams, Maureen Dudoward and Kim Thorne (the lawyer).