Update on contract talks for B.C.’s health science professionals

BURNABY—Bargaining for a new collective agreement covering B.C.’s 18,000 health science professionals working in hospitals and communities around the province concluded its second week on Friday after a series of meetings between unions, represented by the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA), and employers represented by the Health Employers’ Association of BC (HEABC).

The current collective agreement, which came into effect in April 2014 and continues to March 31, 2019, was ambitious in directing the union and employer bargaining associations to develop a modernized classification system, protect benefits, and address issues of recruitment and retention. The work on those areas has been continuous throughout the life of the agreement. The HSPBA welcomes recent Ministry of Health initiatives and policies focused on strengthening the delivery of patient care within a strong publicly funded health care system.

The unions’ proposals are aimed at securing contract improvements that promote job satisfaction and security, support the Ministry of Health’s efforts to address shortages, and promote stability and continuity in the healthcare workforce.  Proposals discussed to date are related to classifications, benefits, and improvements to the Enhanced Disability Management Program and accommodation process. Talks on these issues, and on addressing workload challenges, are scheduled to continue for the next two weeks.

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. The current collective agreement expires in March 2019.

For regular bargaining updates, check CUPE’s Community Health website, or follow us on our Facebook page.

It’s important for CUPE to be able to contact you.  Please make sure your contact information is current. Visiting the Community Health website, contact your local to ensure that your contact information is up-to-date.

CUPE’s member representatives to the HSPBA bargaining committee are:

  • Chief negotiator: Chris Losito, CUPE National Representative and Health Coordinator – BC Region.

Bargaining Committee members:

  • Jennifer Kassimatis, Senior Environmental Health Officer, Vancouver.
  • Sheri Moy, Licensing Officer, Burnaby.
  • Michael McKinley, Environmental Health Officer, Victoria (alternate committee member).

Contract negotiations begin for B.C.’s health science professionals

VANCOUVER—Bargaining for a new collective agreement for BC’s 18,000 health science professionals working in hospitals and communities throughout the province got underway this week as bargaining representatives for the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) and Health Employers’ Association of BC (HEABC) began contract negotiations today.

The union negotiators will focus on achieving a collective agreement that helps address years of erosion in the health care system.

“We’ve received a strong message from our members that years of neglect under previous governments have left a lot of their concerns unaddressed, so we look forward to negotiating a new contract that fixes the system while recognizing the value of their work as health science professionals,” said CUPE Health Coordinator Chris Losito.

“Our member survey earlier this year showed that excessive workload is the number one issue. As well, recruitment and retention need to be addressed because health care teams are being stretched to the limit. So we are hopeful and optimistic that this current round of negotiations will produce an agreement that improves health care services for all British Columbians while respecting the contributions of the hard-working, multi-disciplinary professionals who deliver them.”

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 represented at the bargaining table are BCGEU, PEA, and HEU. The current collective agreement expires in March 2019.

For regular bargaining updates, check CUPE’s Community Health website, or follow us on our Facebook page.

It’s important for CUPE to be able to contact you.  Please make sure your contact information is current. Visiting the Community Health website, contact your local to ensure that your contact information is up-to-date.

CUPE’s member representatives to the HSPBA bargaining committee are:

  • Chief negotiator: Chris Losito, CUPE National Representative and Health Coordinator – BC Region.

Bargaining Committee members:

  • Jennifer Kassimatis, Environmental Health Officer, Vancouver.
  • Sheri Moy, Licensing Officer, Burnaby.
  • Michael McKinley, Environmental Health Officer, Victoria (alternate committee member).

New $3 million professional development fund to help address health science professions shortages in B.C.

BURNABY—The Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) is pleased to announce the creation of a new $3-million professional development fund for members of the health care team  to undertake professional development to increase specialization, improve health care service to rural and remote areas of B.C., and meet ongoing requirements for professional development.

The fund, available to health science professionals who work under the HSPBA collective agreement, was created through a contribution from the Ministry of Health. CUPE’s share of the funding for its members is approximately $115,000.  Applications will be reviewed and approved by CUPE HSPBA locals and funds will be directly reimbursed to successful applicants upon production of receipts for eligible expenses.

The fund focuses on supporting professional development in three areas:

  • $1 million to encourage HSPBA members to retrain for health science professions experiencing shortages in B.C.
  • $1 million to enhance professional development opportunities for health science professionals working in rural or remote areas of B.C.
  • $1 million to assist health science professionals across the province to meet ongoing requirements for professional development.

All health science professionals covered by the HSPBA collective agreement, which includes members of PEA, HSA, BCGEU, CUPE, and HEU, are eligible to apply for funding. Applications will be approved on a first come, first served basis, until the fund is exhausted. Members are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

The guidelines, application, and frequently asked questions documents are downloadable.

 

In solidarity,

Chris Losito
CUPE Health Coordinator – BC Region

CUPE survey on the opioid crisis in Canada

The opioid crisis is a growing problem across Canada.  It’s impacting CUPE members and families across the country. The causes of the crisis are multi-faceted and there’s no consensus around how it should be solved. CUPE has developed materials, including a poster and survey, to explore solutions to the crisis.

Members can distribute the poster throughout their locals simply by copying and posting in workplaces. The online survey can be completed anonymously and confidentially.

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

BC Health Coalition to host talk on Primary Health Care

VANCOUVER—The BC Health Coalition will be hosting a discussion on July 10 about new primary care initiatives happening in B.C. The discussion will be focused on a new, community-governed and interdisciplinary team approach to primary health care delivery that meets the needs of immigrants, refugees and older adult immigrants.

Light refreshments will be provided. There is limited seating. To RSVP, please e-mail Kari Kesslar at k.kesslar@shaw.ca.

What: Community Discussion on New Opportunities in Primary Health Care

Where: MOSAIC, 5575 Boundary Road, Vancouver, BC V5R 2P9

When: Tuesday, July 10 from 9 am to 12 pm

RSVP: Email Kari Kesslar at k.kesslar@shaw.ca.

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