#C1Community health talks underway

Bargaining bulletin

Special meetings for HEU community health members set for Jan. 22 in Vancouver, Parksville

Bargaining for 13,000 community health workers got underway in Vancouver Jan. 15 with the first meeting between health care unions and the Health Employers Association of B.C.

And while the two sides agreed to present full proposals at the next scheduled session set for Jan. 22, employers signaled that they’ll be pushing for “flexibility” and wage cuts.

On the union side, job security is clearly the top priority for community health workers.

And broader discussions continue about possible exploratory talks involving the parties that would link employment security measures in return for a delay in implementing pension benefits. Coverage was set to begin Jan. 1 through the Municipal Pension Plan.

Employment security was part of the current collective agreement, which expires March 31. However, these and other provisions were shredded by Bill 29, when Gordon Campbell broke his promise to respect signed collective agreements.

Needing to gain feedback from members about the possible tradeoff, HEU has not yet been able to lend its support to the pension plan implementation delay. Two special meetings are scheduled for Jan. 22 as part of the union’s outreach to community health members: Vancouver, 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, 711 West Broadway, and Parksville, 7 p.m. at the Bayside Hotel. Additional meetings are being scheduled for HEU community health members in other communities.

About 1,500 HEU members are covered by the talks, which also include members of the BCGEU — the largest union, UFCW Local 1518, and other unions. HEU is represented on the union bargaining association by Provincial Bargaining Committee member Sheila Rowswell, and Raj Chouhan, director of bargaining. To stay abreast of community health bargaining developments, sign up for HEU’s electronic bargaining bulletins. Go to and click on the bargaining news banner to find out how.