Labour Relations Board appoints mediator in H.A.R.P.S. bargaining

Bargaining bulletin

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Today, B.C.’s Labour Relations Board appointed mediator Grant McArthur, after the Hospital Employees’ Union applied for mediation to help resolve differences with the Health and Recreation Personnel Services Inc. (H.A.R.P.S.) in an effort to reach a first collective agreement.

On February 18, HEU’s bargaining committee met with H.A.R.P.S. to hear their response to the union’s monetary proposal, presented the previous week.

So far, negotiations for the contract – which covers 140 members working at Cartier House in Coquitlam and Hilton Villa in Surrey – has secured most non-monetary language, but still lacks a decent monetary offer.

H.A.R.P.S. presented a “comprehensive package” to settle all terms of the contract, but upon reviewing the package, the union’s bargaining negotiator Juli Rees says, “While there appears to be a few areas that the employer has moved closer to the union’s proposals, their comprehensive package for settlement falls far short of what we believe to be fair and reasonable.”

Rees also questions the employer’s motives for issuing a Bargaining Bulletin last week, stating that the “the owner of the facility would almost certainly cancel our contracts,” if workers went on strike. “We’re not sure why the employer is talking to members about a strike, when we made it clear at the bargaining table that our intention is to negotiate fair and reasonable monetary and non-monetary terms and conditions to reach agreement.

“We have also tabled language for an alternative to strike and lockout action that would see future agreements reached by a binding arbitration process should the parties reach an impasse,” adds Rees.

Bargaining talks continue on March 10.

Members are encouraged to check their union bulletin boards for meeting and bargaining updates. If you have any questions, please contact members of your bargaining committee: Luz Wongsam or Elvirah Muchali at Hilton Villa, and Parmindra (Penny) Palak at Cartier House.

There are 94 HEU H.A.R.P.S. members at Hilton Villa and 43 at Cartier House working as care aides, food service and laundry workers, and activity aides. They certified with HEU on October 10, 2008.