Facilities negotiations begin February 7

Bargaining bulletin
Bargaining Bulletins

Unions representing 46,000 B.C. health care workers say they’re seeking a fair and reasonable settlement that protects and improves care delivery when they head to the bargaining table February 7.

The multi-union Facilities Bargaining Association met last week to hammer out bargaining proposals and prepare for the upcoming negotiations with the Health Employers Association of B.C.

Bonnie Pearson, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees’ Union and chief spokesperson for the FBA, is challenging health employers and government to live up to their commitment to be “fair” and “creative” in the talks.

“I think that in these talks, government needs to acknowledge that health care workers have shouldered more than their fair share as a result of government belt-tightening and privatization,” says Pearson.

“In this round, our members are seeking improvements to their contract so that they do not fall further behind. And while we are prepared to pursue cooperative gains we won’t compromise front-line care or the economic security of our members.”

The FBA represents the largest single group of B.C. public sector workers heading to the table in the current round of negotiations for contracts expiring March 31, 2012.

The FBA represents unionized health care workers in hospitals, residential care facilities, diagnostic treatment centres, and in consolidated health services that are shared across multiple health employers.

And for the first time, ambulance paramedics, dispatch personnel and related administrative staff are included in this set of negotiations.  Previously the BC Ambulance Service was directly operated by the provincial health ministry but was transferred to the Provincial Health Services Authority last year.

There are more than 270 job classifications covered by these negotiations including care aides, licensed practical nurses, ambulance paramedics, health records staff, laboratory and other diagnostic specialists, sterile supply technicians, dispatch personnel, trades and maintenance workers, activity aides and rehab assistants, IT specialists, pharmacy technicians, admitting and booking clerks, administrative staff, cleaning and dietary staff, and many others.

The HEU represents about 85 per cent of the workers covered by the talks.

The FBA membership also includes Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 873, the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 882-882H.

Other FBA members are the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 38, the Pulp, Paper and Woorkworkers of Canada Local 5, the British Columbia Nurses’ Union, the Construction and Specialized Workers Union Local 1611, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 230, the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 324, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and the United Steelworkers of America Local 9705.