HEU members in community social services get ready to bargain
With the community social services collective agreement set to expire on March 31, about 25 HEU members working in the troubled sector met in Victoria on October 29 and 30 to elect a new bargaining team and set their bargaining priorities.
In her opening address, HEU secretary-business manager Bonnie Pearson commended delegates for the solidarity and community connections they built during the last round of negotiations. And she encouraged them to continue to keep the issues affecting community social services alive in the public domain.
Pearson also acknowledged community social services workers have built a strong foundation of public support that is critical to future successes.
“You’ve achieved a great deal of credibility and you have made it harder for government to divide you from others in the sector,” said Pearson.
Throughout the two days, delegates worked together to identify the key challenges members face in providing support to vulnerable citizens and their top bargaining priorities.
Those priorities include a general wage increase and cost of living allowance, restoration of former sick leave provisions, no contracting out and restored successorship rights, and improved health and welfare benefits.
During the conference, delegates heard from HEU president Victor Elkins and HEU financial secretary Donisa Bernardo. Island regional vice-president Bill McMullan and Vancouver Coastal regional vice-president Louella Vincent, who are both community social services members, were active participants throughout the conference proceedings.
In addition, Interior regional vice-president Shelley Bridge and North regional vice-president Carol Connor were on hand to meet delegates and learn more about the issues they are facing on the job.
Delegates also elected a new bargaining team – David Huespe (Western Human Resources) and Tasha Whenham (Kardel) along with alternates Richard Brens (VACL/VCRS), Lisa Kirk (WHR) and Melanie Sims (Kardel).
HEU is one of nine unions represented in the Community Social Services Bargaining Association. Bargaining demands approved by the conference will be sent to CSSBA on behalf of HEU’s community social services membership.
Members are encouraged to talk to delegates from their local who attended the conference, and to set up communication networks at their job sites in preparation for bargaining.