Job security win at Royal City Manor is a victory for all

Employer wanted "flexibility" to contract out, HEU negotiators said "no way"

A new collective agreement at Royal City Manor represents a major win not only for the 110 HEU members at the facility — who ratified the contract on July 29 by a resounding vote of 81 per cent — but for all health care workers in the province. That’s because they stood firm against the employer’s attempt to include a “flexibility” clause that would allow them to contract out support services at the private for-profit facility in New Westminster.

The employer at RCM was taking a clue from the Liberal government’s infamous Bill 29 that wiped out negotiated protections from contracting out health care workers’ jobs. But the bargaining committee stood by their guns and said, “No way. We will not give up our `no contracting out’ clause.” And they did not.

“Other private, for-profit health care employers will be trying to put this major concession on the table in their own talks with HEU bargaining committees — they already are,” says the union’s assistant secretary-business manager Zorica Bosancic. “That’s why this is a victory not only for the health care workers at Royal City Manor, but for all HEU members.

” Significant gains for the workers at this facility that is home to about 160 seniors include a $1.00/hour wage increase over the life of the two-year contract for care aides and licensed practical nurses. (Most HEU members at the facility are care aides.) Other classifications will see their wages increase by 27 cents/hour.

Extended health benefits were expanded to boost coverage of vision care to $225 per person (from $90) every 24 months and hearing aids to $500 (from $425) every 48 months.

Retirement plan eligibility will now include all regular employees — not just regular full-time employees. And HEU members may now make additional voluntary contributions of one per cent, two per cent or three per cent to their retirement plan, with the employer matching those extra contributions.

The definition of a common-law spouse — and their eligibility for benefits — has expanded to include all those who have cohabitated for at least one year (instead of two years). Other improvements include an increase in travel time while on compassionate leave from one to two days, a uniform allowance of $60 and a third super stat (Good Friday).

“HEU members at RCM have won a decent contract. Along with a wage increase and other improvements, they have succeeded in a very negative environment to maintain important job protection,” says Bosancic.

The health care workers at Royal City Manor have been members of the Hospital Employees’ Union since 1993. The contract is retroactive to January 1, 2002 and ends on December 31, 2003.