Community social services workers ratify contract
HEU votes 92 per cent in favour of historic collective agreement Community social services workers, members of the Hospital Employees' Union, have ratified a new collective agreement by a margin of 92 per cent. The five-year contract provides substantial wage and benefit improvements and puts these historically low-paid workers on a level playing field with community health workers. The settlement was reached May 29 with the Community Social Services Employers Association (CSSEA) and provincial government officials after 12 weeks of job action and more than a year of bargaining. CSSEA is also expected to announce the results of their ratification votes today. "This contract delivers justice and fairness to the women and men who provide critical services in communities across the province," says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. "Our members fought hard for this agreement and the whole sector — clients, residents and workers — will benefit." Allnutt says that improved wages and benefits will result in lower levels of staff turnover and more stable and consistent care for clients and residents. The settlement also provides the workers with secure wages and working conditions in the event that their employer loses its government contract to another agency. CSSEA is the bargaining agent for non-profit and for-profit agencies that are contracted by the provincial government to deliver services in the areas of community living, child care, family and children's services and services to women. About 850 HEU members are employed in group homes and day programs working with developmentally disabled adults. HEU coordinated its bargaining with three other unions. The Health Sciences Association has also ratified their contract while the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the BC Government and Service Employees' Union will conduct their votes over the next few weeks.