Tentative Agreement for Community Health

We are pleased to announce that the Health Services & Support – Community Subsector Association (CBA) reached a tentative agreement in the early hours of Sunday, January 15, 2023.

The CBA Spokesperson was joined at the bargaining table by eight unions, including CUPE, representing workers covered by the agreement. Representatives on the bargaining committee from every union unanimously support the tentative agreement and encourage all members to vote in favour of ratification.

In the coming days, we will share details of the tentative agreement along with invitations to upcoming information sessions and information on how and when you can vote.

Thank you for standing with our bargaining committee through this challenging round of bargaining. Your support and solidarity gave our committee the courage to reject previous offers from the employer and keep fighting until we secured the best possible deal.

Thanks to you, we have secured an agreement that we are proud to recommend. We are excited to share more details on the significant wage increases, stronger language, and the benefits included in this agreement.

 

Yours in solidarity,

CUPE CBA Bargaining Committee

Categories CBA

January CBA bargaining dates set to hear a new offer

As we continue engaging with the membership about the status of bargaining, we would like to let you know that HEABC has asked us to return to the table to hear a revised offer in January. The constituent unions of the CBA bargaining committee have agreed to return to the table and hear this offer.

We are scheduled to meet with HEABC on January 10, 2023, and we have a series of consecutive days scheduled should they be needed. There is no guarantee that an amended offer will allow us to reach a tentative agreement, but that is the goal of the Bargaining Committee.

As you know, it’s been a tough year of negotiations, and the committee has been disappointed with the employer’s position. Of particular concern is the monetary offer, which outside of core wage increases, does not allow the CBA to keep up with other bargaining associations.

In response, your CUPE delegates to the CBA Bargaining Committee took a break from the table in November and began returning to the membership for feedback. (See our November 21 bulletin for details on providing your input, as this work will continue in the weeks ahead. View PDF here).

Know that your support for our union and the bargaining committee gave us the courage and confidence last month to say “Not good enough!” It’s the only reason we have made it this far. When we reach a tentative agreement, it will be because of your support and commitment to fairness for healthcare workers in the community.

In solidarity,

Your Community Bargaining Association (CBA) Negotiating Committee

Categories CBA

Bargaining continues, progress stalling

The CBA bargaining committee resumed negotiations with HEABC on October 19 – 21, 2022.

We have made some progress and are close to resolving outstanding non-monetary matters, and we’re currently working to reach an agreement on changes to hours of work in both Articles 14 and 15.

However, HEABC (on behalf of the Provincial government) has reiterated that their initial monetary offer has stayed the same. Although this offer includes monies to match the top step of CBA classifications to the comparable FBA rate, it does nothing to address the significant gap in shift premium rates, vacation entitlement, or the years it takes to reach the top step.

More concerning is that there is no additional money at the bargaining table to fund the Joint Community Benefits Trust at the same contribution rates as the FBA. This means that we will not be able to match benefits, and we will remain in a position where the benefits of workers in the CBA could be reduced. We are committed to stopping this, but at this time, there is no offer of additional monies from the province to avoid this in the long term.

We will make one more attempt to resolve these matters in the coming weeks at the bargaining table. If we are unsuccessful, we will have no choice but to engage members on next steps up to and including the potential of taking a strike vote.

As negotiations proceed through the critical phase of the next few weeks, ensuring all members receive these email updates is vital. Please ask fellow members if they are receiving these updates and encourage them to update their contact information with your Local.

 

In solidarity,

Your Community Bargaining Association (CBA) Negotiating Committee

Categories CBA

Bargaining on pause as employer fails to address monetary, recruitment and retention issues

Your bargaining committee members, along with the committee members from seven other unions, have been bargaining for the last three weeks. Bargaining is now on hold while we look at scheduling new dates, and we anticipate talks will resume in late October or early November.

Since our last update, your employer has continued to resist most of our non-monetary language changes that would create greater certainty, and a greater say for workers about their working conditions. It is our belief that these are critical components of addressing recruitment and retention outside of the clear economic differences between health care workers in the community, and our counterparts in facilities.

It is a struggle to make progress, and frustrating that the employer has not come to the table with ideas of their own to address the recruitment and retention crisis.

With regards to monetary proposals, we are still significantly apart. Our goal in this round of bargaining is to see meaningful progress in closing the gap with other health agreements when it comes to overall wages, premiums and vacation. The offer as it stands today still does not adequately address this gap.

Although there are proposals that would close the gap at step four with facilities, a good portion of that money is at the expense of additional monies offered at virtually every other provincial bargaining table. In other words, they will make up some of the gap, but they expect you to pay for some of it by moving money from other parts of the agreement.

Finally, there is a real danger that due to structural underfinancing of the Joint Community Benefits Trust, benefits for workers in community health will be reduced on January 1, 2023. We are absolutely committed to stopping this, but at this time there is no offer of additional monies from the province at the bargaining table to avoid this.

We have made some progress on meaningful non-monetary items, but it isn’t enough – and we will continue to demand progress towards closing the gap when bargaining resumes.

In solidarity,

Your Community Bargaining Association (CBA) Negotiating Committee

Categories CBA

CBA Bargaining Update: Bargaining progress slows down over monetary, recruitment and retention issues

For most of the last two weeks, the constituent unions of the CBA have been at the bargaining table with the Health Employers’ Association of BC (HEABC) working towards a tentative agreement. We had hoped to have good news about progress but, unfortunately, we are not satisfied with where negotiations stand at this time.

Your employer has resisted virtually all non-monetary proposals that would bridge the gap between ourselves and our colleagues who work in the Facilities sector. For example, not only did your employer come to the table with no plan to address recruitment and retention; they’ve actually resisted many of our proposals and ideas to make improvements in this area. In addition, your employer’s monetary offer does not fully address the three biggest disparities in our agreement: wage rates, shift premiums, and vacation. In fact, their core monetary offer is less than what was offered to the Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA).

To be clear, we believe that workers in the FBA deserve every penny they have in their agreement; we simply want equal pay, premiums, and vacation for workers in the CBA. But the only message we are getting from your employer is that they disagree.

Your employer is also refusing to properly maintain the Joint Community Benefits Trust (JCBT), which provides members in community health with extended health, extended dental, and long-term disability. The JCBT was implemented to achieve a cost-effective yet equal level of benefits as the trusts covering other health care workers. Although we have made clear that the JCBT 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 we would otherwise use 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 we hoped, there is good news. During the last two weeks we have achieved language that covers the distribution of overtime, which we hope will begin to bring transparency and fairness to overtime opportunities, and that allows for full mobility with Health Authorities. But these alone will not begin to address recruitment and retention.

The bottom line is that your employer wants to offer us a deal that would see us 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. Your committee is committed to fighting back, to closing the gap, and to ensuring you get the deal you deserve.

In solidarity,

Your Community Bargaining Association (CBA) Negotiating Committee

Categories CBA

Bargaining update: CBA negotiations to resume on September 12

Since pausing negotiations in June, six working groups made up of representatives from both union and employer sides have been working to develop recommendations around new certifications, occupational health and safety, decolonizing the collective agreement, and more. This work will now help streamline the bargaining process as we head back to the table on September 12.

As bargaining resumes, it’s more important than ever that our union 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 review and update your information here.

If you know of any of your co-workers who are not receiving these updates from our union, please ask them to update their information.

 

In solidarity,

Your Community Bargaining Association (CBA) Negotiating Committee

Categories CBA

BCGEU strike update: What you should know

Dear CUPE members:

Since the BCGEU gave strike notice to the Public Service Agency on Friday (August 12), members of other unions including CUPE have been asking how any potential job action might affect them. With the BCGEU in a legal strike position as of 2:46 pm today (Monday, August 15), here is what we know:

  • The only BCGEU members who can participate in legal job action are members of the B.C. public service bargaining unit, sometimes referred to as the “Main Agreement”;
  • There are currently no other Provincial Bargaining tables at an impasse. Our members will continue to work; and
  • There are two “common sites” identified by HEABC in which Health Sector members work in a building where BCGEU members from the public service bargaining unit also work. For those sites, CUPE and other health sector unions will appear at the Labour Board to ensure that our members can safely enter the workplace without crossing a picket line. The local presidents of 1978 and 4816 have been advised of the sites and reviewed the access plans. More details will be shared at the local level if necessary.

The BCGEU job action will evolve over the coming days. If any developments impact our Health Sector members, we will send updates as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, if you see a picket line away from your place of work it is important not to cross it. CUPE members can show solidarity with striking workers by respecting their picket lines, showing support with a honk if driving by, or talking to the striking workers and giving comments of support from CUPE.

 

In solidarity,

Andrew Ledger
CUPE Health Coordinator

Bargaining update: Community Bargaining Association (CBA)

As noted in our last update, our committee was close to a deal on mobility and overtime by seniority. We are pleased to report that we arrived at an agreement in principle regarding mobility and are very close to an agreement on overtime distribution. This will be the first time our collective agreement contains these provisions, and we feel this is a significant achievement to finish on as we pause bargaining for the summer.

Our next bargaining dates are scheduled for September. In the meantime, here are a few things you can do:

  • Watch. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out “Caring in a Pandemic: Living and Working Through COVID” . Hear from fellow CUPE members in Community Health talking about their work and personal lives—a good reminder of why we’re seeking improvements at the bargaining table.
  • Read. Head to the “CBA Updates” page of the CUPE Community Health website to catch up on all the bulletins covering negotiations so far.
  • Update. We’re asking all members to update their contact information by visiting here.
  • Spread the word. Please check with your co-workers to make sure they are also receiving these email updates and share this bulletin with them.

As you may have heard, talks have currently broken down between the Public Service Agency (PSA) and BCGEU members working in the public service who took a strike vote in June. We’ll continue to watch closely as they fight for a fair and equitable contract that addresses the rising cost-of-living – a key issue with which all union members bargaining this year are concerned.

In solidarity,

Your Community Bargaining Association (CBA) Negotiating Committee

 

Categories CBA

CBA, HEABC close to agreement on non-monetary items, talks pause until September

After several bargaining sessions with the Health Employers’ Association of BC (HEABC) over the past several weeks, we have come very close to agreement on issues around mobility, overtime, and other non-monetary items.

Since our last update, we’ve also created the following working groups:

  • Arbitrator/Mediator Lists
  • MOA 6-9, and 26—Memoranda of Agreement relating to Superior Provisions and New Certifications
  • Membership Cards/Member Information
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Pandemic/Natural Disaster
  • ISAR— a working group discussing the In Plain Sight Report, Reconciliation and decolonizing the collective agreement.

These working groups are made up of representatives from both the union and employer side and are tasked with writing recommendations that will help streamline bargaining. The working groups will meet through the next couple of months while we are not at the bargaining table. Through the summer, we will reach out to update your member information and prepare ourselves in case we cannot reach an agreement with HEABC and need to take a strike vote.

We are not currently taking a strike vote in Community Health, as the health sector tables are not at an impasse. Unlike other provincial bargaining tables, the CBA and HEABC continue to hold meaningful discussions and we look forward to returning to the table on September 12.

In the meantime, please remember to review and update your contact information in order to receive important bargaining updates. Make sure your personal e-mail and cell phone number are on file. You can update your contact info up to date here.

In solidarity,

Your Community Health Bargaining Association Team

 

Categories CBA

Decriminalization a ‘good first step’ in destigmatizing drug use, says CUPE Health Care Presidents Council

VANCOUVER—Yesterday’s announcement that the federal government plans to decriminalize small-scale possession of illicit drugs in B.C. represents a long-overdue policy shift away from stigmatizing substance use and instead addressing drug addiction as a health issue, says CUPE’s Health Care Presidents Council (HCPC).

Starting next year, Canadians aged 18 years and older will be able to possess up to a cumulative 2.5 grams of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA within British Columbia. This exemption from the law criminalizing drug possession means there will be no arrests, charges or seizures for personal possession at or below the 2.5-gram threshold.

The new federal policy follows a request from the provincial government for an exemption. Both federal and provincial ministers for mental health and addictions, Carolyn Bennett and Sheila Malcolmson, respectively, announced the policy shift together at yesterday’s media conference.

“CUPE health care workers are encouraged by this first step in addressing the opioid crisis that many of our members have been working for years to combat. It’s a good first step,” said HCPC chair Tuesday Andrich.

“We have been calling for just such a policy change for a very long time, so it’s good to see all levels of government taking the issue seriously. This kind of collaboration is difficult, but the united front that B.C. and Ottawa have shown demonstrates that all levels of government can work together to effect positive change.”

Andrich added that much more work needs to be done to address the poisoned drug supply crisis in B.C.

“Now that we are seeing this change around decriminalization, let’s see if they can do it on the safe supply issue,” she said.

“Many people still hide their addiction and use drugs alone, and with an epidemic of illicit drug toxicity, this can mean dying alone. Evidence-based research—and our own experience in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island—tells us that safe supply will have the greatest impact on saving lives, and CUPE will continue to advocate for these necessary changes.”