Nurses’ Bargaining Association Update – Talks Continuing

The Nurses’ Bargaining Association (NBA) Bargaining Committee is back at the table with bargaining representatives from the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC), exchanging article language proposals that address many of the shortcomings in the current contract. In addition to lead negotiator, Jim Gould, other bargaining committee members are presenting to the employer group, and keeping the voices of working nurses in the conversation by providing compelling examples of the ways misinterpreted language is leading to nurses being woefully disrespected.

Gould was sharp in his reminder to the employer representatives: this is an historic opportunity to reset the relationship between nurses and employers. While the Union’s proposals may appear to add more financial pressure to the healthcare system in the short term, Gould has insisted these changes are required for recruitment and retention. Gould strongly asserted that if employers do the right thing today, these changes will result in nurses staying in the profession for the long term, and will also help return qualified nurses back to the workplace.

When not presenting proposals to HEABC, the Bargaining Committee meets in smaller groups to review the Employer’s counterproposals carefully. This micro approach gives the team more time to assess and challenge the intention of changes being proposed. Talks remain focused on housekeeping-type changes before moving into more complex language and monetary proposals in the weeks ahead.

The NBA Bargaining Committee is steadfast in its resolve. We will continue to bring the voice of nurses to the table, and call out the disconnect between those negotiating for the HEABC and what the employers are actually doing.

Categories NBA

2022 HSPBA Pay Increases Expected in Approximately Six Weeks

CUPE HSPBA members can expect to begin receiving pay raises towards the end of next month.

Timing and delivery of the new pay rates are entirely in the hands of the employer. With the recent agreement on the formulation of wage schedules, the employer is expected to begin making the necessary payroll changes. This is expected to take about six weeks, in line with the implementation seen in comparable contract negotiations.

Pay increases negotiated as part of the 2022-2025 Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association Collective Agreement, ratified by members on December 21, 2022, will also deliver retroactive payments going back to the first pay period after April 1, 2022. Again, in line with the implementation seen in comparable contract negotiations, retroactive payments can be expected to take a further three weeks after members see the new higher rates on their pay statements.

Members can expect an average general wage increase of 3.83 percent in the first year of the new contract, ending March 31, 2023. Pay increases will be at least 5.5 percent and 2 percent in the second and third years respectively, plus any Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increases should inflation remain above the negotiated percentage wage increases. Over the three-year agreement, all members will see a pay increase of a minimum of approximately 12 percent to 14 percent, plus increases that may result from the comprehensive review of job classifications in 2023 and 2024.

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

Health science professionals ratify new collective agreement

Members of the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association have voted 77 per cent in favour of accept a new collective agreement effective April 21, 2022 to March 31, 2025.

Highlights of the contract include a general wage increase of about 12-14 per cent over three years for all members, plus additional increases for most members based on a review of all classifications over this period. The general wage increase is retroactive to April 1, 2022.

“The CUPE bargaining committee went to the table with our members’ priorities clear from the start. These included making significant wage increases, given that we had fallen behind our colleagues in other provinces and even other health authorities within B.C.” said HSPBA bargaining committee and CUPE 15 member Jennifer Kassimatis.

“Our members also wanted us to address recruitment and retention, as so many health science professionals continue to struggle with unsustainable workloads. We were determined to achieve an agreement that would reflect the true importance of health science professionals within the health care system.”

HSPBA lead negotiator Jeanne Meyers said the new collective agreement also includes strategies and action addressing severe staff shortages in the health science professions.

“This contract is important for health science professionals, not just because it raises wages to competitive levels across the country but also because it establishes ongoing processes to address shortages and vacancies, and it recognizes the critical role health science professionals play on the health care team, including asserting their right to a safe and healthy workplace,” said Meyers.

For the first time in decades, the contract provides significant pay increases. In addition:

  • Cost of Living Adjustments are built in to protect pay against longer-term increases in inflation.
  • Improvements to premiums for on-call, short-notice, super shifts and weekend shifts will put more money in many members’ pockets.
  • A long-overdue update to the classification system provides more recognition of the complexity and scope of work, more opportunity for career advancement, and more respect.
  • Specific provisions address the recruitment and retention crisis.
  • Occupational health and safety changes address mental health under duress, unsafe workloads, infection control standards, access to personal protective equipment and prevention of violence in the workplace.
  • Enhanced education leaves support professional development.
  • A new focus on implementing recommendations to support the inclusion of Indigenous workers, patients and clients will work toward reconciliation and culturally-safe health care.
  • Inclusion of communities that experience marginalization in the health care system is a major priority.

In addition to Indigenous-specific anti-racism measures agreed to in the collective agreement, HSPBA was successful in negotiating a ground-pilot project to explore alternatives to the Christian/colonial focus on statutory holidays to better reflect the diverse cultures and practices of health care workers.

The general wage increases are retroactive to the first pay period after April 1, 2022, and the new premium rates are effective as of December 22, 2022.

Nurses’ Bargaining Association contract talks formally underway

VANCOUVER—Wages and premiums are the number one priority for nurses. There will be no concessions in this round of bargaining, and the stripping away of any member health benefits is not on the table. The priorities of CUPE members have been shared with the constituent unions in the Nurses’ Bargaining Association (NBA), and we will continue to push for meaningful change on those issues.

These are the key takeaways from the NBA’s opening presentation to the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC) on December 8. The NBA’s membership includes 35 nurses who are members of CUPE 1004.

The NBA bargaining committee dominated the initial session with HEABC, bringing the indisputable power of nurses’ voices from around the province. The committee provided first-hand accounts of the personal and professional impact of the nurse staffing crisis, highlighting how desperately nurses need help.

HEABC representatives were greeted by large boards signed by delegates at the October provincial bargaining conference answering the question, ‘For this round of bargaining, nurses deserve…’.  The boards included impactful messages from members, including calls for better wages, respect, and safe workplaces, forcing the negotiators to appreciate that all discussions will have one audience in mind: working nurses.

Lead negotiator and BCNU interim CEO Jim Gould made NBA’s position clear: with health authorities falling short of provincial targets for safe care delivery, the NBA has leverage thanks to outstanding levels of public support. Nurses are furious, and this is the round of bargaining to do things differently.

Gould shared a series of statistics that underscore the need for this round of bargaining to seriously address shortcomings in the system directly linked to recruitment and retention issues. Among them:

  • 88 per cent of B.C. nurses say they’re working short at least once a week;
  • Each additional patient added to a nurse’s assignment increases the odds of patient death by 16 per cent;
  • 79 per cent of nurses say they have witnessed patients suffering adverse health outcomes due to poor nurse staffing; and
  • 36 per cent report experiencing workplace discrimination, while 54 per cent report witnessing it.

The Committee shared its expectation that principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion be incorporated throughout the bargaining process to recognize our membership’s social diversity, including race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, nationality, religion, language, and age. The Committee also expressed its desire to have both parties recognize the Indigenous-specific racism and discrimination in the healthcare system and incorporate the findings of the <In Plain Sight Report (2020)>, specifically that negotiators maintain an anti-racist mindset when considering contract language.

The Committee advised the employer that 99 per cent of members at the last bargaining conference said that they’d be prepared to strike to achieve their top five “must haves”: Improved wages and premiums, mandatory nurse-patient ratios, safety on the job, flexibility and leaves, and benefits.

Dates for contract talks have been set for this week, after which bargaining will pause over the holiday season. Meetings will resume in January.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories NBA

HSPBA professional development fund applications now open to CUPE members

CUPE health science professionals can now apply for new professional development funds announced in the spring under an agreement reached between the provincial Ministry of Health and the Health Sciences Professional Bargaining Association (HSPBA).

All health science professionals covered by the HSPBA collective agreement, which includes members of HSA, BCGEU, CUPE, PEA and HEU, are eligible to apply for funding, which will be allocated to the constituent unions on a pro-rata basis.

Key points about the new professional development funding:

  • The funding is to be allocated to training and upgrading skills for HSPBA members working in professions experiencing shortages, or in rural and remote locations, as well as ongoing required professional development for all HSPBA members;
  • The funding will apply to education or training commenced between September 1, 2022 and August 31, 2023. The application form should be submitted ASAP and no later than August 31, 2023;
  • The education or training must pertain to professional development in a health science professional discipline being practiced in the public health care system; and
  • Eligible expenses for reimbursement include tuition fees, registration fees, cost of required books or materials, and other reasonable education-related expenses and may also include reasonable costs of travel and accommodation if the applicant must travel or temporarily relocate to attend education or training or related clinical placement.

Successful applicants will be reimbursed upon proof of completion of the program applied for, along with receipt for costs claimed. If a course, program or workshop is cancelled or otherwise not attended, the application will be cancelled and the member must reapply on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, see the eligibility requirements and frequently asked questions.

To apply now, fill out this form.

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

B.C.’s 22,000 specialized health care professionals reach tentative agreement

B.C.’s 22,000 specialized health professionals working in hospitals and communities around the province reached a tentative agreement late Wednesday night after more than eight months of negotiations between the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) and Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC).

Jeanne Meyers, executive director of Health Sciences Association of BC (HSA) and lead negotiator for the HSPBA, said the multi-union bargaining association went to the table with strong direction from members to address wages that have fallen behind their colleagues across the country. Members also wanted to see recruitment and retention strategies to support specialized health care professionals working under crushing workloads, and respect for the critical contributions of specialized health care professionals on the health care team.

CUPE bargaining committee team member Jennifer Kassimatis said that CUPE members were clear about their priorities for this round of bargaining.

“Our bargaining team worked tirelessly to ensure that we would achieve gains for our members in many areas, beginning with a general wage increase—in line with other provincial public sector agreements—that recognizes the rising cost of living,” said Kassimatis. She added that the tentative agreement also redesigns the outdated classification system and removes barriers to accessing positions in the HSPBA agreement for Indigenous workers while also building in cultural recognition for those workers.

CUPE Health coordinator Andrew Ledger said the agreement also provides some recognition of the extensive hours worked by our members throughout the pandemic and the many challenges they continue to face.

“The committee is proud of the accomplishments made in this tentative agreement,” said Ledger. “We look forward to upcoming information sessions, where we will provide more details about the significant gains we’ve made and recommend acceptance.”

Important features of the tentative agreement include:

  • General wage increase that acknowledges the impact of the rising cost of living.
  • Overhaul of an outdated job classification system to better recognize the complexity and scope of the work of CUPE members on the specialized health care team.
  • Provisions to address the recruitment and retention crisis.
  • Addressing occupational health and safety issues ranging from workers’ mental health, unsafe workloads, improved infection control standards, access to personal protective equipment and violence prevention.
  • Acting on recommendations from the In Plain Sight report on the experience of Indigenous workers, patients, and clients in the health care system to work toward reconciliation and culturally safe health care.
  • Plotting a roadmap for improved inclusion within the health care workforce for communities that experience marginalization.
  • Scheduling and leave provisions to improve work-life balance.
  • Improvements to continuing education and recognition of professional status.

HSPBA represents workers in five unions: HSA, CUPE, BCGEU, PEA, and HEU. Health science professionals are critical members of the multidisciplinary health care team, providing specialized health care services in acute, rehabilitation, community, and long-term care settings. CUPE positions covered by the contract include environmental health officers, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and social workers, among others.

Complete information about the tentative agreement will be provided to members across the province in the coming weeks, with dates for an online ratification vote to be determined.

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

HSPBA Bargaining Update: Advancing proposals on central concerns

Since the resumption of negotiations at the end of September, the HSPBA Bargaining Committee has been working to advance measures to address recruitment, retention, shortage, and workload issues which drive so many of the serious problems affecting the public health care system, the people who depend on it, and the professionals who keep it running.

The employers remain resistant to covering the final distance to agreement on these matters. However, we are pleased to report progress on initiatives addressing Truth and Reconciliation, improving the working lives of Indigenous members, and promoting cultural safety for all specialized health professionals. The discussions are also addressing general safety and wellness concerns.

As an important objective, the Bargaining Committee has also proposed improvements to union representation in the workplaces – by adding more paid stewards.

Cost of living issues remains a central focus of the HSPBA’s Bargaining Committee’s efforts. Recently, two agreements, led by negotiators at the Hospital Employees Union and the BC General Employees Union, were accepted in ratification votes by their respective members. While not achieving the level of gains initially sought, each goes much further towards addressing concerns with inflation than any agreement has in over two decades and gives some sense of current discussions on wage increases.

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.