Slow progress in community talks - #24

Bargaining bulletin

Union negotiators say contract talks with CSSEA at critical stage Despite slow progress on discussions around wage and benefit levels and child care issues, HEU and the other unions representing community social services remain committed to reaching a successful conclusion to contract talks.

As of mid-day Thursday, the unions were awaiting a response from CSSEA on their latest wage and benefits proposal. Talks are at a critical and very delicate stage, according to HEU negotiators.

The unions and representatives of CSSEA restarted talks May 17, two weeks after the last round of negotiations failed to produce any significant movement from employers and government.

Throughout the week, the two sides exchanged proposals on wages and benefits. “CSSEA now understands that a plan for parity is required in a contract settlement,” says HEU’s acting secretary-business manager Zorica Bosancic. “But as of this morning, we still have some hard bargaining ahead of us.”

More progress has been made on the issue of successorship — key to preserving any new collective agreement provisions in a sector dominated by contracted services. The issue of job security, however, still requires attention.

Coverage of child care workers in the agreement — CSSEA excluded these workers in the last round of bargaining — is still unresolved. And there continues to be confusion among employer and government representatives as to CSSEA’s right to bargain on child care issues.

“The pace of talks is slow — and frustrating — for our bargaining committee,” says Bosancic. “But at the same time, the committee recognizes their obligation to our members and their clients to make every effort to conclude fair and just collective agreements.”

Bosancic says HEU members from every sector can take credit for providing the political pressure to restart talks. Hundreds of letters supporting the striking workers have appeared in the offices of the premier, cabinet ministers and MLAs and in the pages of newspapers across the province.