CUPE members covered by Community Health collective agreement invited to have their say on the Low-Wage Redress Fund

Dear CUPE Community Health Member (CBA):

The Community Bargaining Association has been meeting with the Health Employers Association of BC to discuss how to best distribute the $40 million of low wage redress monies recently bargained. The $40 million represents about 6% of total payroll and will be distributed in roughly equal amounts on April 1, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

This amount is substantial, but it’s not enough to close the gap with Facilities Bargaining Association wage rates. That means we have to make decisions on how to spend it to make the biggest difference for you. We need more information to make those decisions. This is where you come in.

The CBA member unions are surveying all our members over the next few weeks. Each survey will be very short – we are designing them to take less than five minutes to fill out and to only have one per week. Please take five minutes today to give us the information we need to distribute the money to make the biggest difference we can across the sector. The survey will be closed to responses after noon Friday, November 23, 2018.

Click this link to go to the survey and thank you!

Categories CBA

Community Health workers ratify new deal

BURNABY—Members of the multi-union Community Bargaining Association (CBA) have voted solidly in favour of a new contract with health employers. The new three-year collective agreement, which covers 16,000 union members working in the community health sector, will take effect April 1, 2019 and expire on March 31, 2022.

“Workers in the community health sector play a significant role in the public health system at large,” said CUPE Health coordinator Chris Losito. “This agreement goes a long way toward closing the wage gap with other health workers, so our members deserve credit for making sure their work is properly recognized and respected.”

Highlights of the agreement include a general increase in wages, funding to address low wages, improved employment security and additional funding for the Enhanced Disability Management Program.

The tentative agreement was reached in mid-June after weeks of negotiations between the CBA and the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC).

Of the roughly 16,000 CBA employees working in community health around the province, the majority are represented by the BCGEU. Along with CUPE, which has 528 members in the sector, the other CBA unions at the table were HEU, HSA, UFCW, USWA, CLAC and BCNU.

Categories CBA

Comprehensive report for CUPE members covered by the community health collective agreement – June 2018

BURNABY—The Community Health Bargaining Association (CBA) reached a tentative agreement for the more than 16,000 union members working in B.C.’s community health sector in mid-June 2018. This three-year agreement takes effect on April 1, 2019 and expires on March 31, 2022.

CUPE and other unions entered into early coordinated talks with the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC), and other major occupational sectors in order to find common ground to reach settlements.

“We believe that our CUPE Community Bargaining Association members will be quite pleased with some of the gains made in this round of negotiations,” said CUPE Health Coordinator Chris Losito.

“CUPE’s bargaining committee put in many long hours to reach this tentative agreement and I thank them for their focus and determination while doing so. CUPE’s CBA members are asked to monitor their personal e-mail (non-work) accounts for information on upcoming ratification meetings to learn more about the tentative agreement and cast their vote.”

The CBA represents community health service and support workers in B.C. They provide services to seniors and others in their home, work as alcohol and drug counsellors, work with adults and children in community settings and provide administrative support to other health care workers.

 

Negotiating framework

CUPE’s bargaining committee members were elected at a health bargaining conference held in February 2018. Many of you completed the workload and bargaining survey we circulated. After the bargaining committee reviewed the results, it was clear that the overwhelming priority of members was closing the wage gap with other health workers.

After the CBA approved an early start to bargaining, the community health bargaining committee began discussions with HEABC in mid-May. The CBA sought an agreement that would make significant moves to close the wage gap with other health workers while maintaining all other benefits.

On June 12, 2018, after almost five weeks of hard bargaining, the CBA was satisfied it had an agreement it could recommend to members. The highlights of this tentative agreement are found in this report.

CUPE Locals have arranged ratification meetings on various dates over the first half of July. If you have not received information on your upcoming ratification meeting(s), please contact your Local right away. Contact information is found at  https://bcchs.cupe.ca/contact-us/. We encourage you to attend a meeting and discuss the agreement before voting.  There will be no opportunity to vote by proxy, therefore you must personally attend a meeting to vote on the tentative agreement.

 

Highlights of the proposed settlement agreement

  • Wage increases of six per cent over three years:
    • April 1, 2019  two per cent
    • April 1, 2020  two per cent
    • April 1, 2021  two per cent

This is for all members, including those whose wages are red-circled;

  • Compensation comparability funding (with the facilities subsector) of about 6.3 per cent of the current payroll spread equally over three years;
  • Improvement of employment security provisions;
  • Creation of task force to investigate paths to CHW regularization (i.e. guaranteed hours) and other issues; and
  • Additional funding for Enhanced Disability Management Program.

 

Compensation comparability adjustments

The new agreement provides for compensation comparability adjustments 6.3 per cent of current payroll over the three years. This is for members with occupations similar to those covered by the facilities subsector agreement. This is an increase of just over two per cent of the current payroll per year.

A committee of five members appointed by the unions and five members appointed by HEABC will review compensation occupations in the community subsector and the facilities subsector and identify occupations that will qualify for the comparability increases. These increases will be applied to wages primarily but could also be applied to shift premiums and other compensation areas.

Additional criteria have been added for this agreement: CBA occupations will be mapped to a new CBA grid level number that will be the same as the FBA grid level number reflecting overall scope, level of responsibility and qualifications of the CBA occupation using the FBA benchmarks as a guide. If the committee cannot agree on which occupations are eligible for a comparability adjustment, it will refer its differences to arbitrator Vince Ready.

This is a significant move to bridge the gap between community health and facilities compensation and among the first with the potential to apply money outside of direct wages increases.

 

Contracting out and re-tendering provisions are improved

Provisions for employment security and protection against contracting out have been improved.

Severance now applies to any employee laid off as a result of contracting out. There is no requirement to meet the trigger number of 500 FTEs laid off. As well, it will be paid at double the previous rate. The rate is now one week of pay for every year of service, topping out at 20 weeks of pay.

Priority hiring rights for employees displaced by contract retendering have been renewed for the life of the collective agreement.

 

Joint Community Benefits Trust (JCBT)

The agreement adds $1.1 million over the life of the agreement to Joint Community Benefits Trust (JCBT) funding for programs to develop quicker returns to work and to improve the mental health of workers.

The JCBT was established on April 1, 2017. It handles the management and decision-making of community sector health and welfare benefits. These include extended health, dental, accidental death and dismemberment and long-term disability benefits.

The employer continues to be responsible for full payment for benefits. All employers must obtain benefits through the JCBT. The funding for the JCBT is expected to be sufficient to maintain benefits over the life of the agreement.

The JCBT is managed by a board of trustees. The CBA and HEABC each appoint five trustees and a neutral chairperson bringing the total to 11. The trustees make all decisions with respect to the provision of health and welfare benefits in the sector.

 

Enhanced Disability Management Program (EDMP)

The Enhanced Disability Management Program (EDMP) has now been established with all employers in the sector. The CBA’s joint participation in the EDMP is designed to assist ill and injured workers in recovering their health and returning to work sooner.

This program is designed to help members obtain timely medical assistance so that they can return to work. The CBA secured ongoing funding at $816,000 per year over the term of the agreement. The CBA will administer the funds directly to support workers in their return to work. The funding will assist unions like ours to provide better service through increasing the number of staff.

 

Occupational health and safety

Funding of $750,000, over the life of the agreement, has been allocated to the joint provincial health, safety and violence prevention committee to address OHS issues and the high level of work related injury and illness. This funding is for the community sub-sector only. The sub-sector can either join with other health sub-sectors on initiatives or use the funds for programs unique to the community sub-sector.

As well, $200,000 has been committed to initiate an online mental health resiliency-training module accessible to all employees.

 

Community health worker (CHW) scheduling provisions

The requirement for the employer to assign hours under Clause 15.4 (3) has been relaxed from ‘as soon as possible’ to allow every opportunity for the hours to be filled by new hours.

The test for applying ‘continuity of care’ to hours assignment has been made equal to the test for gender and language considerations.

Language restricting how often an employee has to check the employer’s voice mail system has been deleted.

The call-in procedure for casuals has been changed to allow for a series of existing assignments to be filled by a single casual employee. An existing assignment is defined as hours already assigned to a regular employee who happens to be absent from work.

A task force has been struck to investigate paths to regularization/guaranteed hours and other solutions to issues that would improve the working lives of community health workers. Task force recommendations can be implemented over the life of the agreement.

Scheduler education funding of $250,000 has been dedicated to developing a joint interpretation on community health worker scheduling practices and to develop a program to instruct schedulers about the interpretation.

 

Other proposed changes

  • Harassment language has been improved to conform to recent changes to the BC Human Rights Code;
  • Union leave has been improved for bargaining committee members;
  • The union will get more information more frequently about its members;
  • Members will have notice of 24 hours of a meeting that could result in discipline. This is so a steward can be contacted to attend;
  • The list of arbitrators was updated to replace retired arbitrators;
  • Vacancies of less than nine months will not be posted but filled by employees seeking additional hours;
  • Special leave for domestic violence has been added. Under the new provision, up to three days of paid leave will be available for absences resulting from the employee or the employee’s dependent child having experienced domestic violence;
  • Compassionate care leave has been increased to 27 weeks to conform to recent provincial legislation changes;
  • Maternity and parental leave has been increased to conform with federal and provincial changes to legislation;
  • Language has been added making the employer, who provides an electronic device (cell phone, iPad, etc.), responsible for the costs of that device; and
  • Redundant memoranda have been deleted.

 

The tentative agreement document can be found here: Community Health Tentative Agreement

Categories CBA

New videos highlight CUPE members in Community Health

BURNABY—The more than 1,300 CUPE members who work in B.C.’s community health sector play an important role in health care service delivery, adding value to their communities while facing workload and other significant challenges on a daily basis, a new pair of CUPE videos reveals.

“Building Caring Communities” and “Meeting the Challenges” feature CUPE members from the Community Bargaining Association and the Health Sciences Professionals Bargaining Association talking about their jobs. The members describe their work in community-based public health care, some of the challenges they face, and the advantages of being represented by CUPE.

“These members provide important health services in our communities,” says CUPE Health Coordinator Chris Losito. “They do everything from diagnostic, clinical and inspection services to advocacy, home support, counselling, preventative, and rehabilitation, as well as administrative support services. They’re a key part of our public health care system but don’t have a high profile in the sector. So these videos put a much-needed face to their work.”

The videos can be viewed at the revamped website for B.C.’s CUPE Community Health workers. The site contains information for members in CUPE’s Community Health sector, including contact information for Health Locals and helpful resources to support their work. There’s also a link to the sector’s new Facebook group page.

CBA reaches tentative agreement for workers in community health

BURNABY—The Community Bargaining Association (CBA) and the Health Employers Association of British Columbia (HEABC) have reached a tentative deal on a new collective agreement.

“We believe that our CUPE Community Bargaining Association members will be quite pleased with some of the gains made in this round of negotiations,” said CUPE Health Coordinator Chris Losito.

“CUPE’s bargaining committee put in many long hours to reach this tentative agreement and I thank them for their focus and determination while doing so. CUPE’s CBA members are asked to monitor their personal e-mail (non-work) accounts for information on upcoming ratification meetings to learn more about the tentative agreement and cast their vote.”

The Community Bargaining Association represents roughly 16,000 employees working in community health around the province, the majority of whom are represented by the BCGEU. Along with CUPE, which has 528 members in the sector, the other CBA unions at the table are HEU, HSA, UFCW, USWA, CLAC and BCNU.

The tentative agreement has a three-year term and includes a general wage increase in each year. It also contains a low wage redress clause and stronger protections against contracting out.

Categories CBA

CBA and HEABC bargain through the weekend

The Community Bargaining Association (CBA) continued negotiations with the Health Employers’ Association of BC (HEABC) through the weekend, concluding its fourth consecutive week of bargaining talks.

“Your bargaining committee continues its work towards improving collective agreement rights while also identifying ways to enhance the services we provide to the public,” said CUPE Health Care Presidents Council Chair and CBA Bargaining Committee member Jill Stromnes.

“While we have made progress at the bargaining table, a significant amount of work remains in order to reach a tentative agreement.”

Please share this bulletin with your colleagues and watch for updates in the near future.

Your CUPE CBA Bargaining Committee:

 

Shaunah Cairney, Local 3403
Allison Bell, Local 15
Jill Stromnes (alternate), Local 4816
Chris Losito, CUPE Health Coordinator

 

Categories CBA

Community Health Bargaining Update

A third week of bargaining between the Community Bargaining Association (CBA) and the Health Employers Association of British Columbia (HEABC) concluded in Vancouver on June 1 with talks aimed at concluding a new collective agreement for members in community health.

“Progress is being made,” said CUPE Health Care Presidents’ Council chair and bargaining committee alternate Jill Stromnes. “Two sub-committees have been meeting to deal with health and safety, and EDMP, the Enhanced Disability Management Program. The CBA is committed to working weekends to get a new agreement in a timely fashion. I’d like to thank the CUPE bargaining committee for its dedication to members.”

The Community Bargaining Association represents roughly 16,000 employees working in community health around the province, the majority of whom are represented by the BCGEU. Along with CUPE, which has 528 members in the sector, the other CBA unions at the table are HEU, HSA, UFCW, USWA, CLAC and BCNU.

Your existing collective agreement expires on March 31, 2019.

We’ll keep you updated on the progress.

 

In solidarity,

 

Your CUPE CBA Bargaining Committee:
Shaunah Cairney, Local 3403
Allison Bell, Local 15
Jill Stromnes (alternate), Local 4816
Chris Losito, CUPE Health Coordinator

Categories CBA

Community health bargaining begins

VANCOUVER—Bargaining representatives from CUPE and seven other unions met this week with the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC) to review priorities and begin negotiations to achieve a new collective agreement with members in community health. Bargaining proposals were tabled on Thursday morning.

“We’re off to a very positive start,” said CUPE Health Care Presidents’ Council chair and bargaining committee alternate Jill Stromnes. “After 16 years of neglect of the community health services that British Columbians rely on, we have now entered into a more positive negotiating climate, with the employer making clear that the work of community health workers is valued.”

Bargaining proposals will push for increased funding and benefits and seek to address the critical issues of recruitment and retention, as well as precarious work schedules. It was also recognized by both parties that building a more robust community health sector is essential for accommodating an aging population.

The Community Bargaining Association represents roughly 16,000 employees working in community health around the province, the majority of whom are represented by the BCGEU. Along with CUPE, which has 528 members in the sector, the other CBA unions at the table are HEU, HSA, UFCW, USWA, CLAC and BCNU. The existing contract between the CBA and HEABC expires on March 31, 2019.

Bargaining is scheduled to continue for approximately five weeks, and we will keep you updated on the progress.

In solidarity,

Your CUPE CBA Bargaining Committee:

Shaunah Cairney, Local 3403

Allison Bell, Local 15

Jill Stromnes (alternate), Local 4816

Chris Losito, CUPE Health Coordinator

 

Categories CBA

Workload high on the agenda as health care presidents meet

NANAIMO—The critical issue of how to address workload in CUPE’s community health and health science professionals sectors was prominent on the agenda at a recent meeting of the union’s Health Care Presidents Council (HCPC).

At CUPE’s area office in Nanaimo on May 11, health care presidents from Victoria, mid-Island and Metro Vancouver met to discuss ongoing business, including a review of the council’s protocol agreement, trustee vacancies, and how to improve member access to the sector’s Enhanced Disability Management Plan advocate. They also reviewed a strategic plan for bargaining in the sector, which begins this week.

But workload was foremost on the agenda, with discussion focused on next steps after a strong member response to a workload survey conducted by CUPE Research. Survey results revealing chronic understaffing, unpaid overtime and systemic burnout across the sector led to a series of meetings with members and local union officers that began with worksite visits and culminated with highly attended workload strategy sessions on April 30 and May 2.

“If we are encouraging members to put in for overtime—and we are—then we need to develop a tracking system for this,” said CUPE 1978’s Lindsay Fumalle, the Local’s chair for the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

“Shop stewards have already requested a tracking system, so we need to gather the right stats and have a user-friendly tool not only to track overtime hours but cases where overtime is denied.”

The HCPC meeting also featured an update on a member awareness campaign with CUPE National, including member videos and a revamped CUPE Health website, to be rolled out shortly.

Workload strategy sessions well attended by CUPE health members

BURNABY—CUPE community health members in Victoria and Metro Vancouver showed up in big numbers this week for two evening workshops aimed at tackling the growing problem of workload in their sector.

At CUPE’s B.C. regional office on Wednesday (May 2), more than 50 members turned out to discuss the results of the union’s recent workload survey and develop solutions for building safer, healthier workplaces. That session followed a similar event in Victoria two nights earlier in which CUPE members filled a meeting room at the Local 1978 office, with two members from Port Alberni joining the proceedings via Skype feed.

The workload strategy sessions followed a series of health sector work site meetings held over several weeks earlier this spring. For those sessions, CUPE staff and local union officers met with members working under the Community Bargaining Association (CBA) and Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) to discuss the results of a CUPE Research survey on workload in the sector. Those discussions lay the groundwork for this week’s meetings.

Wednesday’s strategy session began with CUPE Union Development representative Vanessa Wolff providing a brief overview on workload as it relates to health and safety. CUPE Research representative Sarah St. John followed with a summary of the survey results, noting how excessive workload and understaffing, systemic unpaid overtime, and systemic burnout have had a negative impact on health service delivery and patient care.

Participants then formed breakout groups, based on CBA and HSPBA job classification, to discuss major workload issues in their workplaces and explore some of the causes and contributing factors. After reviewing employer responses to date, if any, each group came up with possible solutions to share with the larger group in the closing plenary. Finally, a point person was identified for each classification, so that CUPE staff and union officers will be able to follow up and recommend further action.

“The members who attended these meetings were completely engaged in the discussion and very proactive about changing their workplaces for the better,” said CUPE Health Coordinator Chris Losito. “This will help us moving forward, as we’re committed to working with the point persons to develop additional strategies.”

Members are encouraged to follow guidance documents for CBA and HSPBA provided at the strategy session, refuse unsafe work where their workloads have become excessive and unsafe, and stay tuned for further updates on the CUPE health website.

View the photo gallery.