CSS NEWS: service changes rejected; bumping rights victory; and more

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Unions reject proposed changes in community living

The Union Bargaining Association has rejected a proposal by the provincial government, Community Living BC (CLBC) and the Community Social Services Employers' Association (CSSEA) that would dramatically change the current service model.

UBA members were particularly concerned about the impact of several proposed changes including:

  • Closure of 100 residential group homes for adults with developmental disabilities
  • Downgrading group homes to unregulated "community residences"
  • Increased use of extended hour shifts
  • Lay-off of workers where an employer moves to a family home model
  • Excluding many workers from significant parts of the collective agreement

The UBA says CLBC is desperate to cut costs by closing group homes and moving to a "family home model" where workers in community living services could choose to support one or two individuals with developmental disabilities in the worker's own home.

Workers who opt to provide services under this model would receive an unspecified and non-negotiable payment. Currently, the average payment for family home care is a little more than $2,000 a month for each individual receiving round-the-clock support. This sum not only covers remuneration but any and all other support expenses – meals, transportation, household amenities and respite care.

Another option proposed by CLBC/CSSEA is for community living workers to become a "roommate" to an individual with developmental disabilities. In exchange for reduced or free rent, workers would support one or two individuals on a round-the-clock basis.

The UBA says CLBC is clearly in a crisis. It is operating with a substantial deficit and has not dealt with a growing list of more than 3,000 individuals with developmental disabilities who are waiting for services.

CLBC/CSSEA is also attempting to recycle proposals – rejected in the last two rounds of bargaining – that would turn the clock back on livable hours of work. If successful, "community residences" with three or fewer individuals residing in them would be exempt from hours of work provisions in the collective agreement.

CLBC has asked the Labour Relations Board to define "family home provider" in the Community Services Labour Relations Act in the broadest possible terms, including any "other unknown models".

Those hearings are set for April at the LRB.

CSS members bump employers’ demands

Community Social Services members have won a victory on bumping rights.

The employers' association had claimed that their version of bumping language had been signed into the collective agreement last year.

However, mediator Vince Ready has determined that the language tabled by the Union Bargaining Association stands.

The new Article 13.4 language gives members significantly enhanced bumping rights.

A worker displaced as a result of a layoff will have the right to bump any junior employee, provided that the bump does not result in a promotion to a supervisory position and that the first employee is qualified to perform the work. It includes the ability to bump into a position with more hours or into a position outside your own grid level.

For example, a night worker in a residence will now be able to bump four grid levels up to a Residential Worker level, because a night worker's qualifications will be recognized as comparable.

Workers continue to be protected against loss of seniority in bumping situations.

The employers had been demanding that an employee could bump up in hours, but not into a higher grid level or a promotion. Their language would have restricted career options and job security.

Non-provincially funding workers to get wage increases

Community social services employers have been told to make good on their agreement to give non-provincially funded workers general wage increases in the same amount and on the same dates as general wage increases for provincially-funded employees. The BCGEU launched the challenge.

This is a win for hundreds of members who work in non-provincially funded positions through Community Social Services Employers'

Association agencies, under the collective agreement.

The first 2.3 per cent wage increase payment is retroactive to April 1, 2006. Members will receive an additional 2 per cent wage increase in each of the next three years of the agreement, as well.

CSSEA had agreed to the increases as part of the collective agreement reached last March 31, 2006. The employers then reneged on their position, and did not provide the wage increases as agreed.

In his award judgment, mediator Vince Ready described the collective bargaining that had led to this agreement as "at times, difficult and intense". He noted that supporting these non-provincially funded positions "are important in the sector because they allow an employer to continue to provide programs that are important to a community, such as daycare."

Website update

Stay tuned for our new improved website to be launched in mid-April at www.respectbc.ca.