Health science professionals working in hospitals and communities throughout the province have voted to accept a new collective agreement that recognizes the value of health science professionals on multi-disciplinary health care teams.
With a vote of 82 per cent in favour of the agreement, union members covered by the multi-union Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) collective agreement have accepted a three-year contract that meets important objectives. The agreement includes competitive wages, a classification system that reflects the contributions of a diverse group of specialized members of the health care team, strategies to address workload and recruitment and retention, and a commitment to improving health and safety on the job.
Information and vote meetings were conducted from January 7 to February 8, 2019. HSPBA is a multi-union bargaining association led by the Health Sciences Association of BC (HSA). Health science professionals include more than 100 distinct specialties, working across BC in hospitals, cancer centres, community clinics, health protection offices and other settings where they deliver the diagnostic, clinical, prevention, education and rehabilitation services British Columbians depend on for their physical and mental health.
For the first time in almost 20 years, the unions were able to achieve significant gains with a government mandate that allowed for free collective bargaining, unlike the previous concessionary government mandates that resulted in health science professionals falling behind their peers across the country.
“We were happy to see such a strong show of support by our members for this agreement—it shows that health science professionals really wanted to see improvements to the contract and believed in our efforts to achieve them,” said CUPE bargaining team member Sheri Moy. “We’ll be stronger moving forward, knowing that the critical work health science professionals do for our public health care system is truly valued.”
CUPE bargaining committee member Jennifer Kassimatis said the contract’s inclusion of two-per-cent general wage increases per year, no concessions to extended health care benefits and pensions, and improvements to the classification system will, along with a continuing professional development fund represent progressive gains for members.
CUPE Health Coordinator Chris Losito thanked CUPE health science professionals for their support of the bargaining committee’s efforts. He also thanked the bargaining committee and local stewards for their steadfast commitment to negotiating and ratifying the agreement.
HSPBA represents 18,000 union members, the majority of whom are represented by the Health Sciences Association. As well as CUPE, which has 800 members in the sector, other unions at represented at the bargaining table are BCGEU, PEA, and HEU.