Health care presidents anticipate growth in sector

NANAIMO—Growth in CUPE’s community health sector was a major topic of discussion at CUPE’s Health Care Presidents Council (HCPC) meeting held here on August 14.

Council members from several CUPE locals heard some exciting news about the prospect of increasing membership, both for the Council and for the community health sector at large.

“The results of this growth will be a stronger voice and an increased vote in the bargaining association on behalf of CUPE’s members, and an increased proportion of collectively bargained funding for things like the enhanced disability management program and, where applicable, professional development funds,” said CUPE Health Coordinator Chris Losito.

“Increased membership in the Council also allows the HCPC more options for pursuing sector-related campaigns supportive of our members’ needs.”

Community health locals can expect to hear more news on this increase in membership in the near future.

At the meeting, the Council also adopted a new Protocol Agreement that strengthens its relationships with partners such as CUPE BC and the Hospital Employees’ Union, discussed ways to ensure more activity involving new member orientation, and nominated CUPE 1978 member Kaz Takeuchi as the new treasurer.

A busy year for health care presidents

PACKED AGENDA—Members of CUPE’s Health Care Presidents Council meet at CUPE’s B.C. Regional Office on May 15. Standing, from left: Warren Williams (CUPE 15, HCPC chair), Lindsay Fumalle (CUPE 1978), CUPE Health Coordinator Chris Losito, Mia Nickel (CUPE 15) and Brandon Laviolette (CUPE 3495). Seated, from left: Michael McKinley and Kaz Takeuchi (CUPE 1978) and Andrew Ledger (CUPE 1004 and CUPE BC executive liaison). Attending via Skype were Jill Stromnes and Connie Penman of CUPE 4816 and Shauna Cairney and Carla Bailey of CUPE 3403-01.

BURNABY—After a successful year of bargaining that saw its members achieve solid new collective agreements, increased visibility and new ways to address workload, CUPE’s Health Care Presidents Council (HCPC) met on May 15 to review progress so far, identify ongoing challenges in the sector, and solidify its relationship to CUPE BC.

At the meeting, Council members reviewed recent updates to the Community Health website (bcchs.cupe.ca), particularly new resources provided for the sector’s ongoing workload campaign. These include information post cards, customized for each local in the sector, on what action to take and who to contact regarding unsafe workloads, as well as tips on how to file a grievance.

In his report to the Council, CUPE Health Coordinator Chris Losito noted that low wage redress has now been implemented for members in the Community Health Bargaining Association (CBA), which by April 1, 2021 will bring those classifications to within 98 per cent of other Facilities Bargaining Association pay rates.

“Ultimately we’d like to see parity with Facilities overall, but this is a significant step in the right direction,” said Losito.

Presidents discussed a growing trend, among some employers under the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA), of changing required qualifications for certain professions, now requiring a minimum of a Master’s degree. Vancouver Coastal Health, for example, has been doing this for social work positions without notice and without considering exceptions for equivalent experience. Agreeing that the same system should apply across all locals, the Presidents said they would monitor job postings in their respective areas and strongly encourage members who feel they have equivalent experience to apply for positions of interest.

HCPC members also reviewed and put the finishing touches to the Council’s protocol agreement. Essentially functioning as a set of bylaws for the HCPC, the protocol agreement is a foundational document that describes the Council’s work on behalf of CUPE community health locals and members around the province.

“Once the locals sign off on it, the protocol’s adoption will ultimately expand the scope of the Council’s work, improve communication between its members and also between the HCPC and CUPE BC as well as between the HCPC and its allies in labour and the health sector.  The revised protocol agreement will also empower the HCPC to address urgent issues facing the sector in a more timely manner,” said Losito.

The HCPC is comprised of presidents and delegates from CUPE Locals 15, 1978, 3403-01, 3495 and 4816, each local representing members within two provincial collective agreements—the Community Bargaining Association (CBA) and the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA)—as well as the QMUNITY collective agreement. Combined, these CUPE locals represent just over 500 members in the CBA and approximately 800 HSPBA members.

The group next meets on August 14 in Nanaimo.

New and improved resources now available to tackle your workload!

BURNABY—After conducting member workshops and compiling sector-specific information based on the results of a workload survey, CUPE’s Community Health sector has now produced a set of materials aimed at solving workload problems that members can easily access from the sector website.

The Workload Solutions web page, found at https://bcchs.cupe.ca/workload-solutions/, has been updated with a range of materials including Local-specific post cards on how to identify excessive workload, what steps to take in response and who to contact for assistance. The post card has also been distributed to CBA, HSPBA and QMUNITY Locals so that members will have a printed version at their fingertips when needed.

Additional workload materials on the website include the survey results, an FAQ document to inform members of what a grievance is and what to expect from the grievance process, workload tracking forms, and information from CUPE National on the health and safety implications of workload and their health and safety rights.

Significant updates to the website were also made for members of Local 3945 employed by QMUNITY—including the posting of their Collective Agreement in this location: https://bcchs.cupe.ca/resources/qmunity-resources/.

Please also remember to like and follow our CUPECommunityHealthBC page on Facebook, and our Instagram account @cupecommunityhealthbc.

HSPBA wage increases go into effect

BURNABY—The two-per-cent general wage increase for health care workers under the HSPBA, as agreed to during negotiations for the 2019-2022 HSPBA collective agreement, has come into effect as of this first pay period following April 1, 2019.

As one of the constituent unions under the HSPBA, CUPE was given the opportunity to review the numbers for accuracy. The draft wage rates, sent to the unions by HEABC, have now been reviewed by the CUPE Health Care Presidents Council using both manual and excel calculations. The Council has confirmed their accuracy.

For the time being, the wage rates are being distributed only in Draft form, on a Without Prejudice and Precedent basis: the wage schedules cannot be formally finalized until the Appendix A arbitration issues have been fully resolved, as they may require modification. Any modifications or amendments to the wage schedules will be updated, distributed to the unions, and posted upon finalization.

For more information, please contact CUPE Health Coordinator Chris Losito (closito@cupe.ca) or your local’s HSPBA rep:

CUPE Local 15: Mia Nickel, mia.nickel@vch.ca

CUPE Local 1978: Lindsay Fumalle, https://cupe1978.com/contact/

CUPE Local 4816: Connie Penman: cupe4816@telus.net

HSPBA broadens funding criteria, eligibility for $3 million professional development fund

BURNABY—The Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) has issued a second call for applications to its $3 million professional development fund, after revising the funding and eligibility guidelines, in order to provide more opportunities for health science professionals to increase specialization, improve health care service to rural and remote areas of B.C., and meet ongoing requirements for professional development.

Funding is still available and CUPE members covered by the HSPBA are encouraged to either apply or, for those whose first applications were denied, to seek reconsideration. Details about the PD Fund were announced in September.

Funding criteria have been broadened in these ways:

  • Within the same funding caps, the funding guidelines have been broadened to now also include eligibility for education that starts after August 31, 2019 (up until education that starts on December 31, 2019);
  • Exam fees and travel related to exam fees;
  • Travel for education within Canada;
  • With acceptable rationale, education costs and travel for education within USA;
  • With acceptable rationale, education costs (but not travel) for education internationally.

Members are encouraged to review the new funding eligibility guidelines, application and frequently asked questions documents. Previously-denied applications will not be automatically reviewed under the new criteria. Members who were previously denied may seek reconsideration by emailing:

 

 

In solidarity,

Chris Losito
CUPE Health Coordinator – BC Region

 

Health science professionals vote to ratify three-year collective agreement

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.

Health Care Presidents Council marks successes, tackles challenges

MOVING FORWARD—Members of CUPE’s Health Care Presidents Council gather at its quarterly meeting, held at the CUPE 1978 office in Victoria on February 13. From left: Jill Stromnes (CUPE 4816), CUPE Health Coordinator Chris Losito, Michael McKinley and Lindsay Fumalle (CUPE 1978), Connie Penman (CUPE 4816), and Kazuhiro Takeuchi (CUPE 1978). Other members from Upper Island and Lower Mainland locals participated via Skype.

VICTORIA—Increased member engagement as a result of the sector’s expanded online presence is providing new opportunities to reach CUPE members in community health, the Health Care Presidents Council (HCPC) concluded at its quarterly meeting on February 13.

As part of the sector’s ongoing workload campaign, the Council decided that new materials on improved collective agreement language addressing excessive workloads will soon be shared via local distribution and the sector’s regional online networks.

“We’ve been excited to see increased activity from members on our Community Health website and Facebook page. This indicates that there’s a real desire for more information on various issues affecting them,” said CUPE Health Coordinator Chris Losito.

“We believe in the value of these online platforms, which help our members not only to find the new information or archived material they seek but also, through this kind of interactivity, reach solutions to the issues affecting them, especially workload.”

Following the anticipated ratification of the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) collective agreement, members can expect to see a shareable post card on workload that will inform them of their rights under the collective agreement and provide guidance on how to apply those rights in the workplace.

Also at the meeting, Council members shared success stories from the recent HSPBA ratification process, which drew a 40 per cent response rate. The CUPE locals clearly appreciated the numerous opportunities and accessible locations for voting, which contributed directly to the much higher than average participation rate, noted Losito.

In other meeting business, the Health Presidents voted to extend the position of the Enhanced Disability Management Program advocate at five days a week for 2019, and made amendments to the Council’s bylaws.

The HCPC’s next meeting will be on May 15 at CUPE’s B.C. regional office.

Wage increases effective on February 1

BURNABY—The Community Bargaining Association (CBA) and Health Science Professionals’ Bargaining Association (HSPBA) have released their respective wage schedules, which both include a 1 per cent general wage increase and a 0.75 per cent Economic Stability Dividend (ESD). The increases are effective as of the first pay period after Friday, February 1.

As a reminder, the ESD is calculated based on 50 per cent of the positive difference between the Economic Forecast Council (EFC) Gross Domestic Product (GDP) forecast and the data released by Statistics Canada. Economic growth in B.C. exceeded the forecast provided by the EFC, the difference translating into an increase of 0.75 per cent for unionized provincial public sector employees who have reached agreements under the Government’s Economic Stability Mandate for collective bargaining, which includes the CBA and HSPBA.

The dividend is cumulative and is in addition to the general wage increases contained in the Collective Agreements.

The ESD increase plus the scheduled 1 per cent general wage increase will be applied to the current salary grids.  Once applied, those grids will be revised and posted for our members so that you are able to easily view the accurate wages.

HSPBA wage grid

CBA wage grid