Arbitration shocker! HEABC goes NSF on HEU

Health employers apparently misled union about available levelling funds during last round of facilities bargaining

B.C.'s health employers made commitments during 1998 bargaining based on a pool of money they knew was nearly exhausted according to evidence given during hearings launched by HEU to bring former CCERA/Pricare members wages and benefits into line with all other facilities sector workers. On Dec. 6, HEU and HEABC wrapped up hearings in front of arbitrator Don Munroe on a grievance filed by the union to force HEABC to pay all facilities sector members according to a common classification system as of April 1, 1998. Health employers have taken the position that the gap between facilitiesí pay rates and the rates for former CCERA/Pricare members can only be addressed by the $5 million levelling fund which was part of the 1996-98 facilities agreement. But during HEABC testimony, HEU learned that health employers bargained adjustments to biomed technicians and stationary engineer wages drawing on these funds even though they knew they had almost been exhausted. "It's a shocking revelation of shoddy bargaining practices by the employer," says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. "Practices that have a potential impact on the resources available for retroactive adjustments for levelling under the previous facilities collective agreement." "HEABC was essentially writing rubber cheques at the bargaining table in an apparent attempt to deny wage justice to a significant number of our members." Although oral hearings have concluded, both HEU and HEABC have until mid-January to submit written arguments. Arbitrator Don Munroe is expected to rule on the matter shortly thereafter.