NSAMH ratifies first collective agreement!

More than 150 care providers at the North Vancouver-based North Shore Association for the Mentally Handicapped have ratified their first collective agreement with an overwhelming `yes’ vote.

“This is great news for this group of community social services workers,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “This contract has been two years in the making and our members are to be congratulated for their solidarity and perseverance through some very trying times.”

Allnutt says that the employer threw up roadblocks at every turn, and even charged unfair labour practices against the union and the government in a complaint filed with the Labour Relations Board in 1999 that subsequently failed. “But our members stayed strong and now have a collective agreement firmly in place.”

The contract, which is retroactive to September 30, 1999 and expires March 31, 2003, includes improvements to working conditions, wages and benefits. “The biggest issue for the NSAMH care providers has always been respect and fairness in the workplace. With the improvements in this agreement, including a number of dispute resolution mechanisms, we’ve moved closer to a better work environment,” says Allnutt.

The NSAMH care providers are members of a joint-Hospital Employees’ Union and the B.C. Nurses’ Union certification and include residential care workers, vocational trainers and registered nurses. They work in residential homes and in a wide variety of vocational programs that support people in the development of life skills through employment training, placement, recreation and other therapeutic opportunities.