The door is always open, HEU tells Sherwood Crescent members

Bill 29 fallout — workers at private care facility decertify in wake of lay-offs and contracting-out

Workers at the private, for-profit Sherwood Crescent Guest Home, a seniors’ care facility in Clearbrook, have voted a narrow 22 to 19 to decertify from the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE). However, while they have lost the benefits and protections of a collective agreement, they have not lost the ongoing support of their former union in the broader fight for better care for seniors and against health privatization in B.C.

“We recognize the enormous pressure that health care workers are under as the objective of the Campbell Liberals’ Bill 29 hits home and employers begin contracting out services and laying off unionized staff,” says assistant secretary-business manager Zorica Bosancic.

“Regrettably, some have become persuaded that decertification will save jobs and improve employment circumstances,” says Bosancic. “What it does mean is lower wages, fewer benefits and no workplace representation. The recently gutted Employment Standards Act offers little for non-union workers.”

Meanwhile, HEU’s newest members — having joined the union within the past week — include housekeeping and food service workers at Rideau Manor in Burnaby, Summerhill in North Vancouver and Mayfair on the Green in Port Coquitlam. All three are retirement living complexes and joined HEU not only to bargain improved wages, working conditions and benefits but also to secure stronger representation and recognition in the workplace.

Bosancic says the three new certifications are part of a comprehensive HEU organizing strategy to counter the efforts of the Campbell government to rollback wages and workplace protections for health care workers through privatization and legislated contract breaking.

“We want health care employees in B.C. to know that HEU is ready to be their union whenever they choose. Our door is always open,” she says.