HSPBA UPDATE: Contract talks covering BC’s modern health care professionals set to resume in August; work continues on classifications grievance

June 19, 2012


Bargaining discussions between the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) and Health Employers’ Association of BC (HEABC) for a new collective agreement for BC’s health science professionals will resume at the end of August.

CUPE bargaining committee member Chris Losito said the delay in bargaining is disappointing, especially since HSPBA’s collective agreement expired on March 31, 2012.

“Health science professionals are motivated to continue negotiating in order to achieve a fair and reasonable collective agreement for the 17,000 members of the modern health care team we represent. The entire bargaining committee is extremely disappointed that the employer has ruled out any bargaining dates before the end of the summer,” he said.

HSPBA Chief Negotiator Jeanne Meyers assures members that the union association is continuing to work on behalf of members on a number of fronts. Since bargaining opened on March 6, bargaining committee members have been working to develop detailed proposals on issues important to members, such as detailed proposals to address workload and other workplace safety issues, including improvements to the existing harassment language. As well, the union has been working on education initiatives to promote recruitment and retention, as well as a fair competitive wage proposal.

”The employer has to understand and take responsibility for the effect that understaffing, financial uncertainty, and workload pressures have on our members. If they wonder why our members need protection during periods of illness and disability they should look to their own budget and planning process. We understand that resources have been made scarce by this government. Our members should not be asked to fund health authority deficits by accepting wages and benefits that put them behind their colleagues in other provinces.  That will not lead to the quality of health care that British Columbia want and need,” Meyers said.

Next week, HSPBA will also be involved in a preliminary hearing on a grievance related to a Joint Classification Committee established in 2010 bargaining.  HSPBA strongly asserts that HEABC must not advance any bargaining proposals that are inconsistent with the parties’ 2010 classification-related memoranda. HSPBA says that HEABC has contravened that MOU by taking the benefit of the Interim Modifications and bringing nothing to the table but proposals which it knew the union would find unacceptable, recycled as they were from much earlier rounds of bargaining at which they had been consistently and clearly rejected.

“In fact, HEABC has instead actively sanctioned the reclassification of some HSPBA members to its own advantage, rather than attempt to address those features of the system which no longer reflect current health care delivery,” Meyers said.

In November 2012, an arbitrator will hear the HSPBA’s policy grievance which alleges that HEABC and its member organizations, while implementing interim classification modifications that saw members lose income, have failed to abide by their obligations under the memoranda.   A preliminary hearing is scheduled for next week, where the HSPBA will be seeking an interim order that will include restoring the workplace to those conditions that would exist had employers not implemented the interim classification modifications.

CUPE represents approximately 500 members in the HSPBA which has over 17,000 members, the majority of whom are represented by the HSA.  Other Unions at the table are BCGEU, PEA and HEU.

HSPBA UPDATE: Negotiations continue at both tables where CUPE members are represented


May 22, 2012

Negotiations continue at the Health Science Professionals and Community Health bargaining tables, but there is limited progress to report.

Both bargaining tables in the health sector report slow negotiations. Bargaining at the Health Sciences Professionals table continues this week and the Community Health table resumes talks next week.

CUPE has ensured that all essential service levels are in place in the event that negotiations do not continue to progress, and the bargaining associations consider other options, including strike votes, to support the work of the bargaining committees.

News this week of a strike vote by BCGEU members has heightened awareness about negotiations. The strike mandate returned by BCGEU members is in the union’s master contract governing wages and working conditions in the direct government service contract, which includes ministry staff and liquor distribution board workers. No CUPE members are covered by this contract.

We will continue to update you as bargaining continues.

CUPE represents approximately 500 members in the HSPBA which has over 17,000 members, the majority of whom are represented by the HSA.  Other Unions at the table are BCGEU, PEA and HEU.

HSPBA UPDATE: HEABC still not ready to defend refusal to implement contract; arbitration delayed


May 3, 2012

After months of preparation, the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) appeared before arbitrator John Hall last Monday to argue an application for interim relief in a policy grievance that alleges HEABC is in contravention of the 2010-2012 HSPBA collective agreement for failing or refusing to work towards the objectives agreed to in bargaining.

But the arbitrator adjourned the hearing because HEABC claimed, for the second time, it was not ready to defend allegations it is violating the terms of the 2010-2012 collective agreement, as a result of current collective bargaining.

Justin Schmid, CUPE National Representative and a member of the Bargaining Committee, said the delay is uncalled for and shows the employers’ disregard for the processes negotiated in the previous contract.


A policy grievance, which included a claim for interim relief, was filed by the unions in November. Employers were notified three weeks ago that the unions would be seeking interim relief on April 23. They claim that they were not given enough time to prepare.

“The HSPBA is as busy with contract negotiations as HEABC is. But we’re not about to abandon our responsibility to hold HEABC accountable to terms and conditions negotiated in the last agreement, even as we work to make progress on a new collective agreement for 2012 and beyond,” Schmid said.

HSPBA charges that the employer is refusing to adhere to the terms and conditions negotiated in the 2010-2012 agreement by failing or refusing to work towards fulfillment of the objectives outlined for the Joint Classifications Committee, negotiated in that agreement.

The union association believes that health authorities are prohibited from implementing any of the interim classification modifications because the right to do so was conditional upon the Joint Classifications Committee fulfilling its objectives.


While the union bargaining association worked diligently on finding creative and innovative ways to approach the classification system, HEABC did not reciprocate. Instead, health authorities moved straight to implementation of the interim modifications, which triggered loss of access to supervision, and a downgrade of grid level for certain members – affecting their pay level.

“The union’s agreement to modify grid levels was contingent on a real and workable commitment to overhauling the classification system. HEABC refused to be productive in that area. That’s unacceptable, and it is completely contrary to the agreement,” Schmid said.

The grievance hearing was rescheduled to be heard at the end of June.

Bargaining for a new collective agreement resumes this week.

HSPBA UPDATE: Health science professionals contract discussions continue

April 12, 2012 

Bargaining at the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association table continues to make slow but steady progress, HSPBA Chief Negotiator Jeanne Meyers reported today.

Like most public sector union contracts in the province, the agreement expired March 31, 2012.

“At the outset of bargaining, we said we were committed to the process, but that if we didn’t see signs from employers that there was an appetite for meaningful discussion about contract issues important to health science professionals, we would not have a lot of patience for the process,” Meyers said.

“I am optimistic that the work being done at the bargaining table is productive, albeit slow, and we are working on a number of long-standing issues that it is in members’ interest to resolve,” she said.

Promising discussions are continuing on the Enhanced Disability Management Program and on an improved and faster arbitration process designed to speed up resolution of disputes.

“The pace is slow, but we continue to seek fair and reasonable recognition of the value of health science professionals in the modern health care team,” said CUPE bargaining committee member Chris Losito.

Bargaining is set to resume later this month. 

HSPBA UPDATE: Bargaining for health science professionals resumes this week

In a short bargaining session at the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association bargaining table last week, the union bargaining association tabled anti-bullying language to address issues in the workplace.

The unions presented language that helps improve personal safety for health science professionals at work.

The pace at the bargaining table has been very slow. There has been only a limited exchange of specific language on the substantive issues.

However, your union has worked hard at negotiating and setting essential service levels in the event of job action at all CUPE work sites.

The Health Science Professionals collective agreement expires Saturday, March 31. The terms and conditions of the existing contract will remain in place until such time as a new collective agreement is achieved. Bargaining is scheduled to continue this week and through next week.

HSPBA’s objectives for this round of bargaining, presented at the bargaining table in February, are:

• To optimize the quality of patient and client care
• To properly value the work of health science professionals on the modern health care team
• To end the reliance on employees’ subsidization of optimal delivery of care, and
• To regain and maintain the competitive edge needed to attract and retain the best and brightest 

CUPE represents approximately 500 members in the HSPBA which has over 17,000 members, the majority of whom are represented by the HSA.  Other Unions at the table are BCGEU, PEA and HEU 

HSPBA UPDATE: Pharmacists’ wage rollback rescinded


Talks at the Health Science Professionals bargaining table today opened with an announcement from the Health Employers Association of BC that the plan to roll back the temporary market adjustment for pharmacists has been rescinded.

The HSPBA applauded the efforts of hospital pharmacists across the province who spoke out against the 9 to 14 per cent wage rollback planned for April 1, 2012 announced January 6.

The almost 1,200 letters sent through the pharmacistsmatter.ca website, along with the efforts of pharmacists who met with MLAs, local health authorities, and who told their stories in the media exerted the pressure needed for HEABC to reverse its plan for the unilateral wage rollback.

When the wage rollback was announced, pharmacists warned that hospitals across BC have been suffering critical recruitment and retention problems in their pharmacy departments. In recognition of these difficulties, HEABC agreed in 2006 to a market wage adjustment to stem the flow of pharmacists away from BC hospitals.

The market adjustment will be maintained for pharmacists until a new collective agreement is in place.

HSPBA UPDATE: Health science professionals open contract negotiations February 27

Health science professionals are scheduled to begin negotiations for a new collective agreement next week.

Health science professionals will be looking for strong indications early on that government and its bargaining agent, Health Employers’ Association of BC (HEABC), are prepared to address fundamental issues.

The Health Sciences Professional Bargaining Association (HSPBA) served notice at the beginning of this year that continuing to fall behind counterparts in other provinces is not an option. HSPBA members are seeking fairness and respect in this round of bargaining. This means fair, respectful, and meaningful collective bargaining; and fair recognition of the role health science professionals play in the modern health care system.

The HSPBA chief negotiator, Jeanne Meyers, said all the signals coming from HEABC and the government – including HEABC’s refusal to undertake meaningful work in a number of areas negotiated in the last collective agreement, HEABC’s arbitrary wage rollback announcement for pharmacists, the government’s announced mandate of freezing wages, and a health care budget that doesn’t keep up with inflation – is that HEABC and the government have limited interest in arriving at a negotiated agreement.

“The HSPBA will enter into the collective bargaining process with a commitment to the process, but, frankly, if we don’t see signs from government and HEABC that there is an appetite for free collective bargaining, we are not interested in participating in a farce,” Meyers said.

Union stewards and staff are currently involved in negotiating essential service levels. Essential services are a legislative requirement to create a balance between workers’ rights to strike, and the need to protect the public from “immediate and serious danger.” In health care, essential service levels ensure there is staff available during a labour dispute to ensure patients are not in immediate or serious danger.

HSPBA represents 17,000 members, the majority of whom are represented by HSA. Other unions at the table are CUPE, BCGEU, PEA, and HEU. CUPE represents over 500 members employed by the Vancouver Island Health Authority, Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health Authority.

CUPE’s representatives to the HSPBA bargaining committee are:

Chris Losito, Environmental Health Officer, Vancouver Coastal Health
Michael McKinley, Environmental Health Officer, Vancouver Island Health Authority
Justin Schmid, CUPE National Representative