Levelling decision "disappointing"

Arbitrator's rejection of union grievance means levelling will be key demand in 2001 bargaining

In a disappointing decision, arbitrator Don Munroe has rejected HEU's bid to have all facilities sector health care workers' wages 'levelled up' to master agreement rates effective April 1, 1998.

HEU and its sister unions in the facilities sub-sector filed a grievance last June arguing that health employers should pay all facilities sector members according to a common classification system as of April 1, 1998 - the effective date of the 1998 - 2001 collective agreement.

But Munroe sided with health employers' argument that the gap between facilities' pay rates and the rates for former CCERA/Pricare members can only be addressed by the $5 million levelling fund which was part of the 1996-98 facilities agreement. Those funds have largely been exhausted without completing the levelling process.

"This is without question a serious setback in our efforts to achieve full wage justice in the facilities sector," says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

"It means that some front-line health care workers will be paid less than others doing the same work under the same collective agreement."

"Now we'll have to refocus our efforts. As a first step, we'll continue to press individual health employers in long-term care to pay fair wages," adds Allnutt. "At the same time we must begin the lay the groundwork so that we can achieve full levelling in the next round of bargaining."

"We owe that to our members and to the years of hard work by local activists that has resulted in a largely successful matching of members in former CCERA and Pricare facilities to master agreement benchmarks."

Levelling impacts about 6,000 HEU members who work in more than 100 long-term care facilities.