For most of the last two weeks, HEU, the BCGEU, and six other constituent unions of the Community Health Bargaining Association (CBA), has been at the bargaining table with the Health Employers’ Association of BC (HEABC) working towards a tentative agreement.
Unfortunately, the CBA is not satisfied with where negotiations stand at this time.
The employer has resisted virtually all non-monetary proposals that would bridge the gap between Community Health workers and their colleagues who work in the Facilities sector. For example, not only did the employer come to the table with no plan to address recruitment and retention, they’ve actually resisted many of the CBA’s proposals and ideas to make improvements in this area.
In addition, the employer’s monetary offer does not address the three biggest disparities in the agreement in terms of wage rates, shift premiums, and vacation. Their core monetary offer is less than what was offered to the Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA).
The CBA believes workers in the FBA deserve every penny they have in their agreement -- they simply want equal pay, premiums, and vacation for Community Health workers as well. But the only message from the employer is that they disagree.
The employer is also refusing to properly maintain the benefit trust that provides members in Community Health with extended health, extended dental, and long-term disability. This trust was implemented to achieve a cost effective yet equal level of benefits as the trusts that are covering other health care workers. Although the CBA has made clear that the trust requires an immediate infusion of money along with increased and ongoing contributions by the employer to avoid benefit reductions, the employer has not offered any additional monies. Instead, they expect CBA members to pay for maintaining the benefit trust from the money that would otherwise be used to increase other parts of the agreement such as premium increases, vacation increases, and wage increases. In other words, concessions.
While progress has not been what has been hoped for, there is some good news to report. During the last two weeks the CBA have achieved language that:
- Covers the distribution of overtime, beginning to bring transparency and fairness to overtime opportunities.
- Allows for full mobility with Health Authorities. However, these alone will not begin to address recruitment and retention issues.
The bottom line is the employer wants to offer Community Health members a deal that would see them fall further behind at a time when health care workers in the community have not only weathered a pandemic but continue to face the opioid crisis and chronic understaffing.
The bargaining committee is committed to fighting back, to closing the gap, and to ensuring Community Health members get the deal they deserve.
It’s more important than ever that HEU has up-to-date contact information for all Community Health members – particularly in the event that we cannot reach an agreement with HEABC and have to take a strike vote.
You can update your contact info on the HEU website.
Bargaining bulletins are posted on the HEU website.