Guardian HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES’ UNION
FALL / WINTER 2017 • VOL. 35 • NO. 3
AGREEMENT NUMBER 40007486
RETURN TO The Guardian 5000 North Fraser Way Burnaby, B.C. V5J 5M3
TALKING ABOUT A NEW GENERATION
Guardian HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES’ UNION
FALL / WINTER 2017
At the legislature HEU members urged government to act on staffing issues and contracting out | 3
A new government ministry is bringing mental health out of the shadows | 5
Digging deep, standing strong Member unity delivered significant bargaining gains | 8
Mike Old PHOTO
Mental health and addictions
MARCHING FOR JUSTICE | HEU members were out in force on January 21, 2017 — the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated President of the United States. They were part of what became a worldwide women’s march that drew half a million people to Washington D.C., and an estimated five million across the globe, to call for human rights, environmental justice, and an end to racism.
2017 a landmark year for HEU
LOOKING BACK over the
13 13 COLUMNS
Above and beyond Premier honours members’ efforts during wildfire disaster | 13
Viewpoint Women are exposing the enormity of sexual violence | 6
President’s Desk Important steps are being taken to tackle poverty crisis | 6
whirlwind 12 months that shaped 2017, it may well be remembered as a landmark year for the union – a year that engaged more members, fueled more activism, and finally ended a decade and a half of B.C. Liberal rule. In January, the union hit the ground running with a bold, pullno-punches campaign on the staffing crisis in residential care. Our call for higher staffing levels and timely care was taken up by scores of members in their workplaces and on social media, and was backed up with a strong TV advertising campaign that took the message public. Our goal was to make our demands on seniors’ care front and centre in May’s provincial election. And indeed, all parties supported the call for more staff in residential care. Throughout the election period, HEU members mobilized in droves across the province to finally give the BC Liberals the pink slips they so richly deserved. After 16 years of privatization, contracting out, contract-flipping and endless restructuring in health care, many members seized the opportunity to work on local campaigns and press for a change of government. On another front, HEU’s 4,000 members working in contracted housekeeping and dietary services
succeeded in their 18-month long, uphill battle at the bargaining table. Through the early days of 2017, and into October, they steadily ramped up their activism across the sector with a series of actions that finally forced health authorities and their corporate employers to meet members’ demands for job security and improved compensation (see page 8). HEU also held a record number of educational gatherings over the
In January, the union hit the ground running with a bold, pull-no-punches campaign on the staffing crisis in residential care. past year – the Equity Conference, a weeklong Fall School, and most recently, a Young Workers’ Conference – all aimed at building member power. In fact, 2017 saw more than 1,400 HEU members participate in a range of education and training opportunities offered by the union. In addition to occupational health and safety, shop steward, and table officers training courses, HEU also launched new courses dealing with addictions, mental health, equity, and truth and reconciliation.
And it must be said that 2017 was a year when HEU members showed up. Whether it was supporting the evacuation efforts brought on by this summer’s Interior wildfire crisis, or marching in protest with women, the Muslim community, Indigenous peoples, or the LGBTQ+ community, members expressed solidarity with their local communities and with the global movement for tolerance and justice. As the union prepares for a new year ahead, with all the challenges and opportunities it may hold, 2017 has laid a strong foundation to build upon. With collective agreements in the public sector expiring in 2019, HEU members in facilities, community health and community social services will be preparing the key themes and priorities they’ll be advancing at the bargaining table. Bargaining will also be continuing in the independent long-term care sector, and HEU members across the province will be convening in the fall for the union’s 31st biennial convention. And early in the year, the union will be looking to the provincial government’s February budget to deliver on programs and policies that will make life better for our members and for all British Columbians.
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COMMENT Jennifer Whiteside | Secretary-Business Manager The workplace culture assessment at Nanaimo paints a picture of a “top-down, heavy-handed, command and control hierarchy” that has bred an atmosphere of fear and mistrust throughout the hospital.
It’s time to fix what is broken
Unhealthy workplaces are a serious occupational hazard. They produce chronic and toxic stress, pressure-cooker working conditions and extreme work overloads. They create the unsafe working environments that have made health care one of the most dangerous occupations in the province, with the highest number of workplace injury claims. And it’s not only physical injury and illness that’s at stake. When employers fail to create the conditions needed for a healthy working environment, emotional and mental health suffers. It is now commonly understood that there is an urgent need to prevent psychological harm due to workplace factors. Organizational culture, civility and respect, workload management and employee involvement in discussions about how their work is done, are just some of the elements that define a healthy working environment. Next year, HEU members in the facilities, community health and community social services sectors will begin preparing for the next round of bargaining. Many of the issues dominating the Nanaimo report suggest that a central theme in the upcoming round of public sector bargaining must be how to achieve greater dignity, respect and fairness in the workplace. HEU members can no longer shoulder the burden of a broken work environment. We must stand up for safe, respectful workplaces across our health and social services systems.
A PICTURE OF GENEROSITY
When a group of delegates pooled their resources to win a television set at HEU’s 11th biennial convention’s Las Vegas Night in 1978, there was some question about how they would divide the prize. Not really a problem, the delegates said. They wanted the set so they could present it, on behalf of HEU, to the
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VGH PHOTO / GUARDIAN ARCHIVES
THROWBACK HEU HISTORY
AS SHOCKING AS IT WAS to see a recent report describing the work environment at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital as rife with intimidation, bullying and retaliation, it validated what members have been saying for a long time. And we know this experience is not isolated to one hospital. It’s not hard to imagine that a close look into the operations at most workplaces in our health system would find elements similar to what’s described in the Nanaimo report. With a $20-million deficit steering decision-making in the Vancouver Island Health Authority, for example, it’s no surprise that an obsessive, budget-driven approach to decision-making has taken its toll. The workplace culture assessment at Nanaimo, conducted by independent consultant Vector Group, paints a picture of a “top-down, heavy-handed, command and control hierarchy” that has bred an atmosphere of fear and mistrust throughout the hospital. And most disturbing, it found that “people have become the leastvalued commodity in the system.” That deep disconnect between hospital management and those who deliver care on the front line, speaks to an urgent need for change. This is a pivotal moment, not only for Nanaimo, but for the system as a whole to realize it’s time to fix what is broken. When the people who deliver the care British Columbians depend upon feel they have no voice, and when administrators ignore the consequences of ongoing workplace dysfunction, everyone suffers. Patients, residents and workers alike.
Health Centre for Children. The presentation was made to a young patient at the Vancouver facility, pictured above with members Verna Offley (right) and Doris Dante (second from right) while one of the hospital’s play therapists looks on.
Your union. Your paper.
HEALTH CARE ASSISTANT DAY
Members urge government to act bers were welcomed into the province’s legislature by Health Minister Adrian Dix. It was October 18 – Health Care Assistant Day – an appropriate time for the union’s care aides and community health workers to bring their issues to government. The minister welcomed members, recognizing “the extraordinary work in health care that care aides do, the amazing care that they provide, particularly to seniors but to many other people in health care.” Earlier in the day, 11 HEU members from across the province met directly with Dix and several other MLAs. They were met by a receptive ear and a willingness to hear directly from frontline care staff. Each member shared personal stories about the problems that impact their ability to do their jobs, and pressed home the importance of implementing higher staffing levels.
Unacceptable injury rates
Although care aides work in many different areas of the health system, they all share the distinction of having the highest injury rates of any group of workers in B.C., in any sector of the economy. “It was important to speak directly to the politicians, who make decisions that affect our working lives and the care we provide,” says Barb Shukin, a care aide working in an adult day care program. “We may not be experts in all things, but we are the
Mike Old PHOTO
THREE MONTHS after B.C.’s new NDP government took power, a group of rank-and-file HEU mem-
AT THE LEGISLATURE | HEU care aides and community health workers speak directly to B.C.’s health minister about the critical staffing issues they face on health care’s front lines.
experts when it comes to delivering frontline care. It’s time they heard firsthand what we struggle with every day.” Allison Hamell, who works in acute care, highlighted the safety issues that go hand-in-hand with low staffing. She spoke about her recent on-the-job injury, which has taken more than a year to heal, and could have been prevented had there been more staff in place. WorkSafeBC stats show, year after year, health care assistants have the highest number of accepted time-loss claims of any occupation, with the highest number of injuries occurring in residential care, followed by home care settings. Miquelle Ball, who works in home care, spoke about the
rushed nature of her visits, and working in a system that’s seriously short-staffed. Home care workers, like Ball, have extremely heavy workloads, and often work alone, which puts themselves and their clients at risk. Mehmo Goolab and Edna Rivera, who work in residential care, described how understaffing means workers have a hard time providing the kind of care that seniors, and other vulnerable residents, need and deserve.
Ruptured continuity of care
Specifically, they spoke about the constant rush to meet immediate needs without enough time to provide compassionate care. And care aides working in privatized residential care talked about the urgent need to end contracting out – a practice where whole
staff teams are laid off at once. Samantha Lindsay shared her experience with contracting out, and how it ruptured continuity of care for seniors, while causing tremendous stress and chaos throughout the facility. The union’s Care Can’t Wait campaign will continue to demand new staffing positions be implemented as soon as possible, and new measures be added to deal with contracting out and contract-flipping by for-profit care home operators. HEU is also calling for clearer accountability in terms of any new funds, and that legislated staffing levels be monitored and enforced. At press time, those messages were being taken to other MLAs throughout the province. SARA ROZELL
ORANGE SHIRT DAY | The HEU Indigenous Peoples Standing Committee recognized Orange Shirt Day on September 30 by sending “Every Child Matters” T-shirts, along with art easels and playground tunnels to the T’it’q’et Daycare and Preschool Society in Lillooet. Most of the children are members of the St’at’limc Nation. Orange Shirt Day remembers residential school survivors across Canada.
By all reports, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) national convention, held in Toronto in early October, embodied the passionate, fulsome debates — and cross-country networking — that have come to characterize the biennial gathering. As the B.C. health services division of CUPE, HEU’s 50 delegates were among the more than 2,200 members, who helped shape the national union’s priorities and policies for the next two years. Highlights included the adoption of CUPE’s strategic plan,
Josh Berson PHOTO
CUPE sets priorities
HEU financial secretary Donisa Bernardo and CUPE BC president Paul Faoro at national convention. which sets out how the union will tackle workplace and community issues, fight racism and discrimination in all its forms, defend public services against further privatization, and advocate for a better country and world.
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Elaine Littmann PHOTO
IT’S THE LAW
Fair workplaces, better jobs? Yes! IF YOU THINK B.C.’s labour and employment laws are hopelessly out of date, you are not alone. For years, unions and workers’ groups have been advocating for improved workplace protections. The good news is, Ontario recently proposed sweeping changes to their employment and labour laws that could pave the way for other provinces to follow. Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 targets vulnerable workers such as casual, seasonal and temporary workers. If passed, the bill would amend Ontario’s Employment Standards Act to raise the minimum wage from $11.40 per hour to $15 per hour by 2019. It would also give all workers access to 10 days of personal emergency leave without a ‘sick note’, two of which would be paid. The bill would also make changes to the Labour Relations Act. Those changes would make it easier for vulnerable workers to unionize and protect employees from dismissal, without just cause, between certification and a first collective agreement. It would also impose successorship on contracting out in the building services sector. This means that when work related to security, cleaning or maintenance is contracted out, or when a contract is flipped, workers would be able to keep their union representation and their existing collective agreements. Successorship in contracting out is something HEU has been fighting for in B.C., due to the devastating impact on health care workers and the public health care system. In Ontario, these successor rights could also apply to any government contract. Here in B.C., the new NDP government has already announced a Fair Wages Commission to decide the provincial minimum wage. At HEU, we are hopeful this is just the beginning. KAITY COOPER
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
When to access a shop steward All HEU members have the right to shop steward representation, no matter what collective agreement you are covered by. That’s why it’s important to know who your local shop stewards, or site reps, are. And even more importantly, under what circumstances do you need to contact a shop steward for support. Shop stewards are there to provide guidance to members, defend their contract rights, file grievances, and advocate for those whose rights have been violated. Most HEU-negotiated contracts have language that specifies how many shop stewards are mandated based on the number of members at each local or work site, such as facilities Article 5.05 and community health Article 2.6, which state that one shop steward for every 50 members may be appointed, with a minimum of two and a maximum of 25 shop stewards. That means large locals like Royal Jubilee Hospital, for example, would have more shop stewards than a smaller work site like Fleetwood Place. When members are called into a management meeting that could be disciplinary, they must receive at least 24 hours’ notice of their right to shop steward representation (facilities, Article 5.12). Most employers know when meetings require shop steward attendance, but not all employers adhere to those collective agreement provisions.
If you’re unsure, it’s best to check with a shop steward. Your shop steward may advise you that the employer has the right to talk to you, in certain circumstances, without union representation. Not all meetings require shop stewards to accompany workers. But if you’re in a nondisciplinary meeting that turns disciplinary, you have the right to stop the meeting and request a shop steward.
Shop stewards are the first line of defense, and they work closely with HEU servicing representatives to protect workplace rights. Shop stewards are the first line of defense, and they work closely with HEU servicing representatives to protect workplace rights. If you want to become a shop steward, there are educational opportunities available for training through the union. Check the union’s website, under Education. Local Executives appoint shop stewards and must approve members’ education requests. “Union Recognition and Rights” are found in Article 5 (facilities), Article 2 and Article 10.6 (community health) and Article 3 (community social services). Members covered by independent, First Nations or contract support services, should refer to their collective agreements for information.
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provide Bernardo with an opportunity to engage at the national union’s executive level. More at <www.cupe.ca>.
Joanne Foote wins Grace Hartman Award Joanne Foote, an HEU activist for more than 30 years, was presented with the Grace Hartman Award at CUPE National’s recent convention. The award is presented to a CUPE activist who embodies the qualities and legacy of CUPE’s first woman president. Foote was recognized as a member who shines as a trailblazer for women’s rights and social
unionism. She is an Ojibwe Elder from the Rama reserve in Ontario, who retired in July from her position as a recreation aide at Holyrood Manor in Maple Ridge. Foote has been a passionate advocate for Indigenous rights and a strong campaigner to end violence against women. At her award presentation, Foote told the story of Hartman joining striking Inco workers when she was a girl. Foote noted the
Josh Berson PHOTO
CUPE is Canada’s largest union, representing more than 639,000 workers in municipalities, health care, education, transportation and other public services. CUPE is a leading and respected voice on social justice issues that impact union members and all Canadians. Other business included the reelection of CUPE’s national president Mark Hancock and secretarytreasurer Charles Fleury. And HEU’s own financial secretary Donisa Bernardo was elected to CUPE’s National Executive Board. That position had been held by HEU president Victor Elkins, who stepped aside to
deep honour she felt in receiving the award, and the beauty of “the way the circle closes, for me to receive this in Grace Hartman’s name at the end of my career.”
Blue Poppy winners Congratulations to the winners of the seventh annual Blue Poppy colouring contest, sponsored by HEU’s People with disAbilities Standing Committee. This project is part of the committee’s National Day of Mourning outreach activities. Four winners were randomly drawn, and each received an iPad. Recipients in the 8-15 year-
Deaths in B.C. in the first eight months of 2017 due to a drug overdose
More than 80 per cent of those deaths involved the opioid fentanyl.
MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS
Judy Darcy heads new ministry WHEN THE NEW BC NDP gov-
old category were Jonah Haake (13) of Castlegar (HEU member Joanne Pagnini) and Grace Gott (13) of Prince George (HEU member Julia Gott). In the 2-7 year-old category, recipients were Saira RakhraHargun (3) of Vancouver (HEU member Gurjit Rakhra) and Sebastion Gilfillan (7) of Sechelt (HEU member Tatra Ivanisko). The committee thanks everyone who participated in the contest.
HEU welcomes new members Following successful organizing drives, 300 health workers – in
OVERDOSE AWARENESS DAY | Minister Darcy meets with Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH) — a network of Canadian mothers and families whose loved ones have died due to substance misuse — at an August event in Victoria, where they provided on-site Naloxone training.
while conducting extensive and ongoing consultations, particularly with B.C.’s Indigenous population. “The overdose crisis is bringing together a diverse and broad mix of people and organizations,” says Darcy. “It has brought down walls, and now, so many are working together to turn the corner on the worst public health emergency that B.C. has seen in decades.” Although the opioid overdose crisis is affecting people across society, Indigenous peoples are disproportionately affected by both addictions and mental illness, says Darcy. “The addiction rate for Indigenous peoples is three times that of the general population, and it is equal
acute and long-term care – made HEU their union of choice when they ratified certification votes at their work sites. HEU is pleased to welcome these new locals: Eden Care Centre, a residential care home in Chilliwack; Whistler Health Care Centre providing comprehensive services; North Island Hospital-Comox Valley campus in Courtenay, North Island HospitalCampbell River & District campus, along with assisted living sites Cedars at Beulah Gardens in Vancouver and The Heritage Retirement Residence in West Kelowna.
between females and males.” Darcy says the causes of addictions are very complex. “But we do know that addictions are frequently rooted in trauma. That’s why we’re working closely with First Nations individuals, their organizations and communities to build on traditional concepts of healing and develop culturally appropriate treatment models.” And, she says, mental health is finally being recognized as fundamentally critical to overall health and well-being. Undiagnosed and/or untreated mental illness often goes hand-in-hand with addictions. “We need to bring mental health out of the shadows,” says Darcy. “We need to get to a place where people living with mental
health issues are treated with the same dignity and respect as those with a physical illness. “That means combating the stigma surrounding mental illness so that people will seek help, so that families will have critical discussions, and so that those struggling with mental illness are not seen as weak.” The new ministry’s mandate includes immediate and longerterm goals to address the ongoing opioid crisis, as well as strategies to expand and improve mental health and addictions services with seamless and timely access, an investment in early prevention/intervention, and youth mental health.
“I have seen health care workers pouring their hearts and souls into caring for people living with mental illness and addictions.” “We are taking an all-government approach that has this ministry – and the ministries of Housing, Poverty Reduction, Children and Families, Health, and more – working closely together,” says Darcy. “We really have to get at the social factors that contribute to mental illness and addictions. That’s why community partnerships with individuals, organizations and government are so crucial. We need all hands on deck.” MARGI BLAMEY
Mike Old PHOTO
ernment announced the creation of the promised Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions (MMHA) in July, reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Premier John Horgan’s choice of HEU’s former secretary-business manager Judy Darcy as the minister responsible made a lot of sense to health care workers on the front line. “Judy brought tremendous insight and determination to her advocacy for HEU members,” says the union’s secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside. “I know she’s committing that same energy to the critical issues of mental health and addiction.” In her first week on the job, Darcy met with frontline workers, individuals and families affected by addictions and/or mental illness, and representatives from organizations and agencies to get a full picture of the challenges they’re all facing, and explore potential solutions. “I have seen health care workers pouring their hearts and souls into caring for people living with mental illness and addictions, and doing this in spite of the challenges and gaps in the system,” says Darcy. “I’ve heard them say over and over again how important it is to listen to staff on the front lines and to people who are living with addictions and mental illness, and their families. That’s where many of the best solutions will come from.” To that end, Darcy has established working partnerships,
HEU president Victor Elkins and the union’s secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside met with B.C.’s Labour Minister Harry Bains (centre) in mid-October to discuss the high injury rates in health care and other issues affecting HEU members in the workplace.
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WORKING FOR YOU
Meet HEU Equity Officers Jennifer Efting and Sharryn Modder who support the union’s five equity standing committees — Ethnic Diversity, Indigenous Peoples, Pink Triangle, Women’s, and People with disAbilities. A large part of their work is supporting these committees to provide outreach and advocacy to HEU members and to build solidarity with other social justice groups. As part of HEU’s education department, they design and deliver workshops. They also support and advise on the equity-focused work of the union.
Sara Rozell PHOTO
Donisa Bernardo | Financial Secretary
Women are breaking the silence more than ever, propelled to speak out by the flood gates that have opened up.
IN RECENT WEEKS, social media
feeds have been alarmingly inundated with the hashtag “me too” – as millions of women publicly disclose their personal experiences with sexual harassment and assault, particularly in the workplace. It’s part of a spontaneous campaign that’s raising awareness and providing a forum for women to speak out about sexual violence. Sparked by A-list Hollywood actresses calling out influential industry executives and fellow actors for sexually harassing or assaulting them, the campaign has now swept across all job sectors. Women are breaking the silence more than ever, propelled to speak out by the flood gates that have opened up, and they’ve united against this insidious abuse of power. And they are demanding action to end it. Most disturbing are the high numbers of incidents that still go unreported due to privacy, fear and shame, as many victims continue to be threatened with social and economic retaliation by their predators. But if women can stand together, it’s possible to end an injustice that’s gone on for generations. Since women have been traditionally treated as second-class citizens, the fight for women’s equality has been long and hard. And it’s far from over. According to Stats Canada, one in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. With a membership comprised of 85 per cent women, many HEU sisters may have also been impacted. HEU members are very aware of B.C.’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls, the Montreal Massacre, and the Pickton Farm. We don’t need a “me too” campaign to remind us how vulnerable women and girls are to gender-based violence and discrimination. But with the deluge of women coming forward, the “me too” campaign has created an important international dialogue about this hidden issue. There are supports and resources available for women who may be experiencing, or have experienced, sexual harassment or assault. There are women’s resource centres in most communities for confidential counselling and information. For HEU members who have access to B.C.’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), call toll-free 1-800-505-4929 or email help@ efap.ca. Sodexo workers have contract language protections around harassment, as do many WorkSafeBC and employer policies. Any HEU member can contact WorkSafeBC at 1-888-621-7233 for support. Nobody should suffer in silence. And nobody should suffer alone.
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Victor Elkins | President
PRESIDENT’S DESK I remain hopeful things will change with a new government in Victoria that is more compassionate and caring.
WHAT IS HAPPENING to tens of thou-
sands of children and youth in B.C. is heartbreaking. According to the 2017 report on child poverty by First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, 153,000 children in our province live in poverty. Poverty affects nearly half of recent immigrant children, one in three Indigenous children living off First Nations’ reserves, and close to one in four racialized children. At the same time, the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness determined that over 40 per cent of youth experiencing homelessness in Canada have been involved with child welfare services, including foster care and care homes. As a foster parent, this is particularly distressing. In B.C., that means 3,000 children currently in foster care could be abandoned to the streets. Yet, I remain hopeful things will change. Especially now, when we have a new government in Victoria that campaigned on a vision of a more compassionate and caring province. Easier said than done. Too often, incoming governments fail to follow through. However, the BC NDP under Premier John Horgan have already taken important steps to tackle our poverty crisis. And that gives me some hope. They acted immediately to raise income assistance and disability rates by $100 per month, along with raising earnings exemptions by $200 a month. They waived post-secondary tuition fees for all youth leaving foster care, introduced a transportation supplement for those on disability assistance, and have begun construction on 2,000 units of housing for B.C.’s homeless. These are all important inroads. But more needs to happen to lift children and their families out of poverty through a combination of better wages and reduced household costs. That means, the BC NDP, with the support of the Green Party of BC, must get moving on several other campaign promises – a $15-an-hour minimum wage, affordable child care, supports for all youth aging out of care, and new affordable market rental, non-profit, co-op and supported social housing. Going forward on these initiatives would be life-changing for the tens of thousands of children and youth who are currently trapped in poverty. Poverty won’t disappear overnight. But as the First Call report points out, in less than five years, we can make B.C. a national leader in Canada with a poverty reduction strategy for our most vulnerable citizens. Now, let’s do it.
GET INVOLVED SOMETIMES 46%
VERY INVOLVED 16%
“How would you describe your level of involvement in the union?”
NOT INVOLVED 38%
HEU Young Workers’ Survey 2016
YOUNG WORKERS’ CONFERENCE
Supporting a new generation
And they talked about some of the barriers they face, such as the discord that can be created between colleagues due to the generation gap. Some said they feel their voices are silenced by veteran workers; they may be unrecognized for the strengths they bring to the workplace, and don’t feel valued by those with more years of experience. On the other hand, they’re proud of their union’s social justice work and are eager to take advantage of educational opportunities. In the union’s 2016 survey of HEU members under the age of 35, more than 38 per cent said they had no involvement in the union, although 16 per cent described their participation as “very involved.” In her opening remarks, HEU’s financial secretary Donisa Bernardo shared her history of activism, starting as a youth, and how she climbed the leadership ladder. “I was 28 years old when I became active in HEU,” recalls Bernardo. “I started attending local meetings to learn more about how the union works, and to be eligible when electing delegates to convention, which was the ultimate goal for a young activist. I gained a lot of experience, took several union workshops, got elected to my local executive, and participated in many HEU events. Although
it can be gruelling work, I’ve gained lifelong friendships among my union family.” Under the theme Taking Our Place: Shaping Our Future Today, members exchanged stories about successful organizing campaigns either at their locals or within their communities. They also learned valuable communication strategies for initiating conversations and generating support for whatever issue they’re organizing around, including public engagement at rallies and petition-signing. “HEU uses petitions as an important tool to talk with, and unite, workers or community members about an issue,” said secretarybusiness manager Jennifer Whiteside. Whiteside cited the union’s fightback campaign against laundry privatization in the IHA. Members in numerous Interior communities collected nearly 13,000 signatures on a petition that was tabled by the BC NDP at the legislature. Although five major hospitals had their laundry contracted out, under the BC Liberals, several smaller communities kept their services in-house, including 100 Mile House and Williams Lake.
Brenda Whitehall PHOTOS
It’s no secret that “baby boomers” have been retiring in massive numbers over the past 10 years, and will continue doing so in the coming decade. This “grey tsunami” – as it’s been dubbed by the media – is paving the way for an influx of workers entering the labour force – with fresh ideas, new skills and current education. That’s why HEU is taking an active role in mentoring the union’s young activists to equip them with the required training, skills and confidence to become future leaders. More than two dozen HEU members gathered for a two-day Young Workers’ Conference in November, bringing a wealth of ideas, energy and passion to the plenary, and leaving with a commitment to implement an action plan at their work sites, such as recruiting co-workers to attend local meetings.
Participants especially enjoyed a talk by North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma. At only 32 years old, Ma spoke candidly about her meteoric rise in politics after actively campaigning against Bill C-51, a controversial anti-terrorism act initiated by Stephen Harper, which threatened the privacy, rights and freedoms of Canadians. “I had spent so much of my life believing that I never had to worry about a lot of the issues that matter to me because there was somebody else out there,” said Ma. “They were doing the organizing. They have volunteers, money and experience. They know what they’re doing. [But] I realized that sometimes if you don’t step up, nobody does. Sometimes it really does fall to you making the first move.” She recalled an incident in which a number of volunteers, mobilizing to repeal Bill C-51, were shooed away at a protest rally outside the office of B.C. Liberal MP Joyce Murray.
“To hear an elected representative and their staff dismiss all of this public engagement as just partisan propaganda really opened my eyes to another lesson,” said Ma. “Grassroots movements can really only go so far if we don’t elect people to government who are actually willing to listen, who are actually willing to collaborate and see beyond the partisanship that so many of them are caught in.” HEU president Victor Elkins was also inspired by Ma’s story. “I think I learned more today about politics and why we need to be politically active… It’s because we have to be. We now have an NDP government in office, but we still have to hold their feet to the fire and make sure they deliver on what they promised.” BRENDA WHITEHALL
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DIGGING DEEP. STANDING STRONG.
Member unity delivers significant bargaining gains HEU members did it. Eighteen months of activism and tough bargaining in the contracted support service workers sector finally came to a successful conclusion when members ratified 11 collective agreements covering 4,000 HEU housekeepers and dietary workers in November. “These contracts establish a new B.C.-wide industry standard across the sector, which improve members’ rights and wages,” says HEU secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside. “And on top of that, members secured a hardwon agreement between the union and the health authorities that ensures members will keep their jobs, their collective agreement and their union, when commercial contracts are re-tendered.” The key to their bargaining success, says Whiteside, was the onslaught of collective actions members took in support of their bargaining demands. From last spring’s petition presentations to work site managers, to taking job action in the final weeks leading to the settlements, members overcame their fears, and moved boldly forward – building on one action after the other. It was a campaign that will be inspiring in Key to their success was the the coming year for HEU’s public sector members, as they prepare to renew their contracts onslaught of collective actions in the facilities, community health and commembers took in support of munity social services sectors, she says. “By standing together – in the workplace or their bargaining demands. on the streets – member demands for a more secure future in health care and better compensation could not be ignored by the four multinational corporations, or the health authorities that contract with them,” Whiteside emphasizes. For Maricris Avenido, who works as a housekeeper at Surrey Memorial Hospital, a key turning point happened last May when members delivered a 2,400-signature petition to managers at her site. Gathering the signatures in support of job security had been a daunting task alone, but when Avenido and her co-workers marched down the hall
DAY OF ACTION | On May 1, 2017, HEU members across the union wore orange to support the more than 4,000 contracted support service workers in their fight for fairness.
to the Sodexo office, en masse, in late May, it took member action at her site to a whole new level – and it worked. “At first it was bit scary,” says Avenido. “We did not know how the managers would handle it. Also, you don’t know if members are going to walk with you. But in the end, there was huge support from everyone. “Afterwards, we were happy and we felt empowered,” adds Avenido. “Members now knew they could come together and overcome their differences to achieve big things.”
TAKING JOB ACTION Following the successful strike votes in June, member activism continued to gather momentum. By the time their job action mandate was triggered through an overtime ban in late September, members were ready to go. “Implementing the overtime ban gave us a powerful sense of accomplishment at my hospital,” says Burnaby Hospital housekeeper and Aramark bargaining team mem-
BC Liberals pass Bill 29, throwing 8,000 hospital support service staff out of work.
HEU launches a massive organizing campaign. 4,400 support service workers rejoin the union.
First round wins
Second round – more gains
Round three power boost
Members fight back
New collective agreements
51-day strike leads to first collective agreement covering members at over 100 sites.
Second round of bargaining improves wages, benefits and rights.
Average wages up to $16/hr and bargaining power strengthened with a common contract expiry date.
Contract-flip triggers mass firing of 900 HEU workers. But following a strong, member-led organizing drive, the entire workforce rejoins HEU.
Members achieve job security and new B.C. industrywide standard for support service workers in health care.
8 GUARDIAN | Fall / Winter 2017
DELIVERING A MESSAGE | When dozens of HEU bargainers representing all four employer groups gathered on May 24, 2016 at the union’s Provincial Office to kick off talks with Compass Group Canada, the company’s representatives refused to enter the room. That moment sowed the seeds of future member action.
put openness and transparency at the centre of everything the union did. As members waited in their “United for Fairness” T-shirts, Compass refused to enter the room. It was a galvanizing moment for HEU’s bargaining teams. “When our employer would not meet with us, it first made me angry. But then it made me want to fight harder,” says Miguel. “As a bargainer, I feel love for my members. Thinking of all the challenges they face every day motivated me to push hard and achieve more.”
SECURING THE DEAL
STRIKE VOTES | In late June 2017, members across the sector delivered strong strike votes. They turned out in record numbers to cast their ballots, despite being forced by health authorities to hold these votes on the street.
ber Gwenda Alexander. “Members felt they finally had the power to say no, where before they felt they had to accommodate often unreasonable demands by management.” During job action, Alexander says members were eager to take part in the ban, knowing full well that managers would have to take on the overtime work members refused to do. In fact, the two biggest employers, Sodexo and Compass-Marquise, tried and failed to get the Labour Relations Board to cancel the ban. “The overtime ban exposed the problems that comes from the employer’s chronic understaffing of our work,” says Alexander. “By the end of the last weekend overtime ban, we could all see how relieved managers were to get back to their own jobs.” Looking back on the last 18 months, St. Paul’s Hospital housekeeper and bargaining team member Precy Miguel knows how important member unity
was for bargaining – especially when it came to winning job security. That’s because in 2015, she was one of more than 900 HEU members laid off when Vancouver Coastal Health changed contractors. However, seven months after being hired back by her new employer – Compass Group Canada – at lower wages and reduced benefits, Miguel stood for election to her unit’s bargaining committee.
FACING DOWN THE EMPLOYER By late May 2016, she and the rest of her eight-person team kicked off talks for the entire support service sector. Sitting with her team were more than 35 other bargainers who represented thousands of HEU housekeepers and dietary workers employed by Acciona, Aramark, Compass-Marquise and Sodexo. This show of unity had a big impact on Miguel’s employer. And it was a crucial part of HEU’s negotiating strategy that
That commitment to want better for her members spurred Miguel and her bargaining team all the way. In the final days leading to a tentative deal, Compass finally agreed to a single bargaining table that included Miguel and members from all five HEU Compass-Marquise “When our employer negotiating teams. The would not meet with us, two sides hammered out it first made me angry. five collective agreements But then it made me covering 2,000 workers in less than 48 hours. want to fight harder.” By the end of November, all support service members had achieved new settlements with all four corporate employers. “It’s taken four rounds of bargaining to get justice on job security,” reflects Whiteside. “This achievement begins to turn the page on the BC Liberals’ vicious attack on support service workers in health care, which began when 8,000 members were fired to make way for privatization. “Now, with the conclusion of bargaining in this sector, we will continue to fight for dignity and fairness for HEU housekeepers and dietary workers, who are such an important part of the health care team.” NEIL MONCKTON
Fall / Winter 2017 | GUARDIAN 9
LABOUR BARGAINING RIGHTS RESTORED FOR AMBULANCE PARAMEDICS On October 24, the provincial government announced it is initiating a process which will restore standalone bargaining rights to B.C.’s ambulance paramedics and emergency dispatchers. The move has the strong support of both the Ambulance Paramedics of BC (CUPE Local 873) and the Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA), which represents 11 unions in collective bargaining with B.C.’s public health employers. CUPE Local 873 members were transferred into the FBA for the purpose of collective bargaining when the previous government moved the province’s ambulance service from the Ministry of Health to the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) in 2010. HEU’s secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside, spokesperson for the FBA, says it’s the right move for all parties. “CUPE Local 873 members are a critical part of the health care team, and the FBA unions have been pleased to support them during the transition to PHSA,” says Whiteside. “But the work of CUPE Local 873 members is fundamentally different from facility-based health care workers, so this change is both appropriate and welcome.”
News from here and around the world
Change for the better IT’S STILL HARD to imagine there is
a new government in Victoria. After 16 years of B.C. Liberal rule that was marked by attacks on workers, public services, vulnerable citizens, First Nations and the environment, British Columbians finally have a government that is on the side of the people, instead of against them, says HEU secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside. “Last May’s election was the beginning of a new chapter in the history of our province, and so far we are off to a good start,” says Whiteside. Already, the NDP with the support of the Green Party has moved on key commitments to protect the most vulnerable citizens – people on disability and social assistance, youth aging out of care, or renters who were being priced out of their homes. As well, the NDP took actions to reduce commuting costs,
The NDP, with the support of the Green Party, has moved on key commitments to protect the most vulnerable citizens. rein in planned hikes for ICBC and BC Hydro, and remove financial barriers to basic educational opportunities. When it comes to improving public health care, the BC NDP established a new ministry led by former HEU secretary-business manager Judy Darcy to tackle the drug opioid crisis. They also made modest funding increases to enhance access to effective and affordable drug coverage, improve seniors’ care, and stabilize primary care.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL | Premier John Horgan being greeted by an enthusiastic crowd in Maple Ridge just prior to Election Day.
“Too many families were left behind for too long,” says BC NDP Premier John Horgan when looking back on his government’s first legislative session that wrapped up in late November. “British Columbians deserve a government that works for people. We’re taking the first steps to make life more affordable and help families get ahead.” “It’s been refreshing to see the new government in action, tackling some of the biggest social, economic and environmental challenges facing our province,” says Whiteside. “Nevertheless, when we head into a new year and the NDP’s first comprehensive budget, HEU will continue to push the government to reverse the decline in our health system and to listen to the voices of health care workers who are eager to be partners in improving care,” says Whiteside.
“I am certain that every NDP and Green MLA knows full well that health workers are struggling to provide good health care in a system that’s been mismanaged and starved for resources by the Campbell/Clark Liberals. In 2018, we all need to roll up our sleeves, work together and get medicare back on track. “Outside of health care, there are high expectations about what the NDP-Green coalition can achieve too,” adds Whiteside. “The phasing out of the unfair Medical Services Plan premium, action to address the housing crisis, the implementation of a child care program, a strategy to reduce poverty and improve wages – and many other measures – will need the full attention of the new government and the support of those who voted for change.” NEIL MONCKTON
10 GUARDIAN | Fall / Winter 2017
ng ua rH
V ic to
DOCUMENTS OBTAINED through Freedom of Information reveal the cozy relationship between the fossil fuel industry and the last B.C. government went even further than suspected — all the way to inviting the industry to directly craft the province’s climate “leadership” plan. In fact, while the United Nations climate talks were underway in Paris in December 2015, the BC Liberals launched a closed-door, three-month process to work with the oil and gas industry to revise and rewrite the government-appointed climate leadership team’s 32 recommendations, issued earlier that year. And most of these meetings took place not in B.C., but in the Calgary boardroom of the most powerful fossil fuel lobby group in the country, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). When B.C.’s climate leadership plan was released in 2016, it largely ignored the climate leadership
Fossil fuel lobby wrote B.C.’s climate plan
With the fossil fuel industry accustomed to guarding the hen house, political will is required to move forward.
team’s original recommendations. Most troubling of all, the Christy Clark government carried out secret meetings in another province, with an industry that’s a top contributor to the B.C. Liberal party, to shape policy that ought to constrain that very industry — as any meaningful climate policy must do in relation to the fossil fuel sector. B.C.’s new NDP government has committed to more ambitious climate policies than the previous Liberal government outlined in its “non-plan” last year. But with the fossil fuel industry accustomed to guarding the hen house — putting pen to paper on climate policy and regulation — a great deal of political will is required to move forward. See full story at: <policynote.ca/climate-leadershipplan-big-oils-boardroom>. SHANNON DAUB / ZOË YUNKER, CANADIAN CENTRE FOR POLICY ALTERNATIVES
B.C. HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
HEU calls for greater protections under the B.C. Human Rights Code At a time when intolerance, racism, and human rights violations continue to make headlines here and throughout North America, HEU is applauding the NDP government’s decision to reinstate B.C.’s Human Rights Commission. For 15 years, British Columbia has been the only province in Canada without a human rights commission, following its abolishment by the BC Liberals in 2001. But in late September, B.C. Attorney General David Eby launched a two-month public process inviting British Columbians to weigh in on the role and priorities that should shape a new commission.
Many members have been driven into the ranks of the “working poor” and have been forced to take on multiple jobs, and seek various forms of social assistance. To that end, HEU has strenuously argued that “social condition” must become one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination in the province’s human rights code – alongside race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.
“The history and continuing experience of our members and their fight against gender-based wage discrimination speaks to the need for a renewed Commission and a stronger framework for human rights advocacy in our province,” said HEU’s secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside, in her submission to government on the union’s behalf. The union stressed that over the decade and a half since the former B.C. Liberal government began its campaign of privatization and wage rollbacks, many members have been driven into the ranks of the “working poor” and have been forced to take on multiple jobs, and seek various forms of social assistance to make ends meet. “It is significant that two of the lowest paid areas in B.C.’s public sector today, health support and social services, are female-dominated and employ a high proportion of racialized people, immigrants and single mothers,” said Whiteside. “People with one or more of these characteristics in our society have limited job opportunities. The discrimination they experi-
DISCRIMINATION | When the BC Liberals, under Gordon Campbell, ripped up health care workers’ collective agreements in 2002, they reversed hard-won equity gains HEU had made in addressing wage discrimination. Now, this largely female workforce, which also includes many racialized people, immigrants and single mothers, needs greater protection under B.C.’s human rights code.
ence is both systemic and intersectional – they face discrimination on multiple grounds simultaneously.” Quebec, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories have made “social condition” a general ground of discrimination in their human
rights codes. And Ontario is currently considering a bill that would recognize “social condition” as a ground of discrimination. Eby will receive recommendations by the end of the year, and legislation is expected in 2018.
Murray Bush PHOTO
HEU joins Walk for Reconciliation HEU members joined tens of thousands of supporters in Vancouver’s Walk for Reconciliation in late September. Assembled on Coast
Salish land, the walk brought together people from all backgrounds, cultures, faiths and ages to continue the path forward to reconciliation. Chief Robert Joseph, cofounder of Reconciliation Canada,
described the walk as a call to action that demonstrates the shared commitment Canadians and Indigenous peoples across Canada have toward creating a relationship based on reconciliation. In 2013, the first walk was held to support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. Those hearings shed light on the injustices of Canada’s residential school system, the atrocious abuse of Indigenous children, and its long-term damaging impact on Indigenous culture. The federal government issued apologies to residential school survivors on June 11, 2008, but
excluded those in Newfoundland and Labrador. Following a lengthy court case, an apology to those survivors was finally issued on November 27 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Liberals break promise on protecting pensions While campaigning to become prime minister, Justin Trudeau said he opposed giving employers the ability to retroactively change Canadian workers’ pension plans. Flash forward to today, Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau are now poised to usher in reforms Fall / Winter 2017 | GUARDIAN 11
“Don’t sit there and be overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem. Just pick out that portion which is yours, and kick butt.” ~ Harry Belafonte singer and civil rights activist.
HEU FALL SCHOOL
Developing grassroots leadership the province gathered at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster for an inspiring weeklong fall school program in October. The solid agenda included an HEU member panel on Grassroots Leadership Success Stories; a Resilient Leadership panel by community organizer Stephanie Fung of Chinatown Action Group and activist Omar Chu of Sanctuary Health Collective; and a presentation on diversity, equity and inclusion by educator and facilitator Natasha Aruliah. “Equity is about fairness,” explained Aruliah, who’s currently undertaking an equity audit of HEU. “It involves accommodating differences and recognizing that some people may face barriers, obstacles or disadvantages in particular due to social inequalities, which require accommodation in order to achieve the same goal, the same outcome. Equity is not the same as equality [as] it is not about treating everyone the same way.” Members participated in several workshops and skills-building exercises, and heard from community leaders in their areas of expertise. Seth Klein, the B.C. director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, discussed the link between politics and the economy, and how it relates to the labour movement, equity, poverty, and the environment. “We are now wrestling with the two great inconvenient truths of our time – inequality and climate change,” said Klein, referencing a graph that charts 100 years of wealth distribution. “You see the great [income] inequality in the early years, and again in recent years. But you also see how the shock of WWII jolted a more equitable distribution into place. But it wasn’t just the war; it was also the advance work done, particularly by labour in the 1930s, which lay the groundwork.” Boston-based author and activist Mark Brenner gave several U.S. examples of labour demonstrations that resulted in positive workplace changes. He noted many employers still
Barb Nederpel PHOTO
MORE THAN 120 HEU activists from across
DAY OF ACTION | Armed with petitions to raise the minimum wage, fall school participants practiced their outreach skills by taking their message to the streets as part of the Fight for 15 campaign.
use “divide and conquer” against unionized employees. “Our mission as a union is about building power,” says Brenner. “We are trying to build power for ourselves on the job, for our members, and for working class people in this country and around the world… Our power comes from our internal organization, from our union, and from our willingness to fight.” Other speakers included HEU secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside, president Victor Elkins and financial secretary Donisa Bernardo.
What members had to say
After the course, many participants shared their experiences on social media. Here’s what some of them had to say. Shauna Lewis, care aide at New Horizons in Campbell River: “Thank you for a wonderful first experience at an HEU event. I’ve been chatting with my other local reps and we’re already strategizing on ways to motivate our members
to be more involved in our important activism.” Clark Wilson, cook at R.W. Large Memorial Hospital in Bella Bella: “The experience of learning how to better serve my local is just the beginning. I’m empowered.” Terrence Rodriguez, care aide at Hamlets at Westsyde in Kamloops: “I have such warm memories and a fire in my belly.” Tanuja Najumi, community mental health worker at the Coast Mental Health Resource Centre (VRC local): “I found the class material, speaker topics and group activities [were about] sharing a common goal of empowering HEU members, new and old, to find recognition in the struggle to establish unions and the important work of continuing with the process of securing worker rights.” Kimberly Harker, health care aide at Nanaimo Regional Hospital: “I had an amazing learning experience, and it was so much fun. I met lots of new friends, and I have useful information to bring back to my local. These are memories I will not forget.” BRENDA WHITEHALL
NEWSBITES in Bill C-27 that would rob federal workers of the financial security they worked so hard to achieve. This bill would remove protections from the pension plans of hundreds of thousands of workers, who are employed by federally regulated companies — such as airlines, big banks, the postal service, and many others — putting their retirement income at considerable risk. That’s because there will be no legally binding benefit commitment made to workers, should their employers choose to switch to the new target benefit plan. 12 GUARDIAN | Fall / Winter 2017
Under the Liberal legislation, target benefit plans are only required to set pension payment goals, based on a pre-determined level of contributions by employees and employers. The catch is, if the plan experiences a shock — like a market crash — future or past service benefits will be slashed, as employers won’t be required to backstop any losses to pension income. “This is employer-favouring, anti-union legislation that will erode, not improve, pension security in Canada,” says CUPE National president Mark Hancock.
“There is a better way forward in the federal pension space, and we call on the government to sit down with workers and employers to find that path.”
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh brings the love For many, Canada’s new NDP leader is a figure like no other on the national stage. And yet for New Democrats, Jagmeet Singh represents the core of their party’s values — hope, integrity and a fierce determination to make a better world.
Like federal NDP leaders who came before him, Singh’s journey into political life was driven by a calling. Whether it was taking on the schoolyard bullies where he grew up, to supporting community organizations working for social and economic justice as a lawyer, he knew he wanted to fight injustice. “We must take care of all of those around us,” says Singh. “If we lift up the people around us, we all rise.” To learn more about Canada’s new NDP leader, visit <jagmeet singh.ca>.
Community health worker Fiona Brauneisen is part of a team that supports adults with a mental health diagnosis, who face housing and other challenges.
Making a difference every day
Congratulations to HEU bursary recipients Each academic year, HEU awards a number of bursaries, sponsored by union locals and HEU’s Provincial Executive (P.E.). They’re available to members, their children, stepchildren and legal guardians, and spouses, including common-law and samesex partners, who need financial assistance and demonstrate satisfactory academic standing. They can support courses at any post-secondary educational institution, and are administered by a bursary committee under the P.E.’s direction.
ON THE JOB
HEU care aides Dusti Naud and Jamie MacLean don’t consider themselves heroes. But on October 14, Premier John Horgan recognized them as part of the Above and Beyond Awards program for their wildfire disaster relief efforts. This summer, a provincial state of emergency was issued after more than 220 wildfires swept across the Interior forcing more than 40,000 British Columbians from their homes and communities. In Kamloops, Naud and MacLean jumped to action — organizing and operating the biggest 24/7, volunteer-run evacuation centre that supported more than 1,500 evacuees daily. At the time, Naud and MacLean cancelled their vacation plans to volunteer 12 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week — even when they were suffering from sore throats and burning eyes from the smoke and ash that filled the air for several weeks. “We’re here for the people,” said Naud. “They may have arrived with just the clothes on their back, but they get to leave here with two or three outfits to make them feel a little more comfortable.” “And knowing they have a place to come,” added MacLean, “and there are people who care; people who take the time to see how they’re doing.”
Elaine Littmann PHOTO
ABOVE AND BEYOND AWARD
“If I can make a small difference every day at work, and impact someone’s life in a positive way, I am happy,” says mental health worker Fiona Brauneisen. Fiona is enthusiastic about her employment at Coast Mental Health Vancouver Resource Centre, where she works with adults over the age of 18 who present with challenges like a mental health diagnosis, substance abuse or homelessness. Her clients are a demographically mixed group: some are homeless or live in SROs, while others have stable housing. “They come to see us for the services we provide each day,” says Fiona. The Resource Centre offers affordable meals, as well as social and recreational activities and programs. Clients may work in the garden, play pool, meet with volunteer and support groups, and access needed advocacy services. Fiona enjoys working as part of a dedicated team. She meets directly with the Centre’s clients and makes referrals for their individual needs. Building relationships is a key part of the support she provides. She says the program is client driven, “but they really do trust and depend on us. I love learning their life stories and getting to know them.” Before moving to Born and raised in Ireland, Fiona’s occupational inspiration came from her mother, a play Canada, Fiona worked therapist for children with challenging behav- with at-risk, high iours. Since the age of 15, Fiona volunteered with support kids living in mental health organizations dealing with at-risk residential care. children. Before moving to Canada, she worked with at-risk, high support kids in residential care. She arrived in B.C. last May, and started her new job at the Resource Centre in July. Fiona recently attended HEU’s Young Workers’ Conference as a new member, which she says increased her awareness and desire to become more involved in union activities. She especially enjoyed the group work about how to create successful campaigns. “We are supported and empowered as young workers,” says Fiona. “We are the future. And we are going to make positive change.”
Here are the 2017-2018 recipients and their sponsoring locals:
Receiving $350 bursaries Chanpreet Chahal (UBC), Navneet Sandhu (Royal Columbian – Bill Black), Lindsay Bhuller (Victoria General), Mark Pilien (Royal Columbian – John Darby).
Receiving $500 bursaries Joshua Apland (P.E. – Alex Paterson Memorial), Jarmie Claire Sasing (Vancouver General), Xin Yin Wang (Royal Jubilee), Manuchehr Mukhamadiev (St. Paul’s – Robert Standell), Devin Montagliani (PHSA Amalgamated
– Cathy Peters Memorial), Spencer Principe (Vancouver General), Tara Blodgett (P.E.), Jackson Silverster-Lee (Richmond), Jeanette Valiente (Burnaby), Kala-Dawn Larsen (P.E. – Ginger Goodwin), Prabjot Sidhu (Maple Ridge – Tara Hansen Memorial), Mark Anthony Galan (Prince George), Jordon Johnson (Shaughnessy-George Derby), Truly Hunter (People with disAbilities Standing Committee – Cathy Peters Memorial).
Receiving $1,000 bursaries Shariq Ahsan (P.E.), Edna Chan (P.E.), Antonio Doev (P.E.), Cassidy Leigh John (P.E.), Sasha
Makiesse (P.E.), Amanda ObergO’Brien (P.E.), MacKenzie Balzan (P.E.), John Peter Bonzo (P.E.), Isabella Brodie (P.E.), Halle Desrosiers (P.E.), Minhui Kuo (P.E.), Hannah Sietzputowski (P.E.), Kourtenay Brager (P.E.), Brandon Greenall (P.E.), Leona Hwang (P.E.), Ashley Jones (P.E.), Madeline Kaspick (P.E.), Deanne Kennedy (P.E.), Grace Luo (P.E.), Angela MacFarlane (P.E.), SaraAnn Klok (Surrey – Iris Andrews Memorial), Nathan Penner (P.E. – Ray McCready Memorial), Manpreet Dhillon, (Surrey and P.E. – Edward James Ashmore Memorial). Fall / Winter 2017 | GUARDIAN 13
Young workers today Despite being Canada’s most educated generation, young workers are more prone to precarious, parttime, contract, temporary, low-wage work than any other age group. Test your knowledge about young workers, and check out the answers below.
2 3 4
How many young workers (age 15 – 24) in Canada belong to a union? a) 218,230 b) 46,680 c) 361,300
What is the unemployment rate for young workers in Canada? a) seven per cent b) 29 per cent c) 14 per cent
Canada has a total population of 35.2 million. How many are youth (age 19 – 24)? a) 6.8 million people b) 17.3 million people c) 2.4 million people
How many young workers have a workplace pension plan? a) One in 10 b) Three in 10 c) One in 20
JOIN THE CONVERSATION | HEU members and their allies are actively using Facebook and other social media platforms to talk about the issues.
Pharmacare Pharmacare should cover the drugs your doctor feels are necessary! Patricia Mills
HCA Day – What you love about your job The thing that’s most amazing about my job is every day my residents make me smile. That’s pretty great! Sheri Bruce
$15 minimum wage I suggest following the Seattle model: instant wage increase of $15 an hour for the big corporations, and a gradual increase for small businesses.
I love all the stories my residents tell me, about living through WWII, details that they don’t put in the movies. Leia M Briscoe
MSP and health spending I wouldn’t mind the MSP premium if it went into health care, but it goes into general revenue and not to health care! Dawn Thurston
Jack Webster scholarship I want to recognize and thank my union, the HEU, for continually presenting and supporting educational opportunities to its members and their families. Tina Dyck Thiessen
HEU Day – We’re 73! Hello to the ‘activists’, those who’ve stepped up and taken on the task of fighting for fellow members. Brent Bou
HEU day I want to acknowledge all our workers who are on LTD and the workers who are on WSBC.
Fair Wage Commission We need to raise the wages for the people who are caring for people. Tania de Graaf
It’s to help pull people out of extreme poverty... even $15 an hour down there isn’t that great. Darcey Mackie
Child poverty highest among single-parent families Poverty is a trap out of which it is nearly impossible to climb when you are a single parent, and societal attitudes do not help. Danielle Reid
Get connected Stay connected
Grant’s Law is B.C. legislation that addresses which workplace concern? a) Wage-theft b) Working alone at night c) Bullying According to WorkSafeBC, young workers (age 15 – 24) make up which percentage of all injured workers? a) 45 per cent b) 27 per cent c) 13 per cent How many eligible young voters cast their ballots in the 2015 federal election? a) 15.4 per cent b) 57.1 per cent c) 23.8 per cent More than half of young workers in Canada are employed in which part of the economy? a) Oil and gas industry b) Health care c) Retail and service sector
Answers: 1.a 2.c 3.c 4.a 5.b 6.c 7.b 8.c 14 GUARDIAN | Fall / Winter 2017
Sara Rozell PHOTO
E.R. UNIT AIDE | Barry Sohal loves his fast-paced job as an emergency room unit aide at Victoria General Hospital. From direct patient care to ordering and making sure vital supplies are readily available, to urgently running down corridors to retrieve blood for a trauma patient, he’s there giving it his all. Talking about emergency room unit aides, Sohal says, “We’re essential and we make a difference by helping to save lives. I love my job.”
49,000 members in 276 locals
Laundry worker Sophia Dricos (Nelson) retired from Kootenay Lake Hospital in September. A dedicated HEU activist for more than 30 years, Sophia served as local chair, vice-chair, shop steward and OH&S steward. She was also a tireless leader in the union’s fightback campaign against privatizing laundry services in the IHA. Sophia began her career in 1986 at Mt. St. Francis Hospital where she worked in laundry, maintenance and housekeeping. She fondly recalls HEU’s 1996 convention, where she stood on the convention floor and inspired most of the 550 delegates to sing with her. During her career, Sophia also served on the HEU Pink Triangle Standing Committee and Equal Opportunities Committee, as well as the Canadian Labour Congress’ Working Out committee. As a retiree, Sophia plans to enjoy life, create art, sing, and travel with family and friends.
After a short illness, long-time activist Tammy Hudson passed away on July 26. She was an acute care aide at St. Joseph’s General Hospital (Comox). Tammy previously worked in the kitchen and in extended care. Tammy attended HEU conventions from 2006 to 2016, bargaining and regional conferences, summer school, and numerous workshops. Well-loved by her local, she held many positions, including chair and vice-chair. As a steward, Tammy was highly valued by her co-workers for uncompromisingly standing up for members’ rights, and for being a great source of information and support for any worker facing difficulties. Tammy’s loss is deeply felt by her children, grandchildren, co-workers, and many friends.
An HEU member of 30 years, Louise Hilland (Bella Coola) retired from Bella Coola General Hospital as a cook. She also worked in laundry and dietary services. Louise served as an HEU local shop steward, trustee and senior trustee elect. In her community, she was an organizer with the PMJ basketball league. In retirement, Louise plans to spend more time with her beloved grandchildren. Melinda Mack (Bella Coola), an HEU member of 27 years and former shop steward, retired after working at the hospital as a care aide and in the community as a community support worker. From 2007 to 2012, Melinda assisted at Victim Services. Since 2013, she also worked as an RCMP detachment jail guard. In her community, Melinda is a successful fundraiser for people in need, and has organized many “Dancing in the Light” workshops to address sexual abuse. HEU sincerely thanks Sophia, Louise and Melinda for their years of dedicated service, and wishes them all a happy and healthy retirement.
HEU is pleased to help sponsor the 2017 “Hope in Shadows” wall calendar. Produced by Megaphone Magazine, the project helps provide economic opportunities for over 150 vendors experiencing homeless ness and poverty in Vancouver and Victoria.
After a courageous battle with cancer, Mary Anne Jones (62) passed away on April 6, surrounded by her loving family. An HEU member (Port Alberni) for 35 years, Mary Anne retired from her staffing clerk position at West Coast General Hospital in 2015. She was a doting grandmother, who loved the company of her friends and family. Her passions were fishing, hunting, camping, swimming, sewing, knitting, crocheting and warm holidays. Mary Anne will be deeply missed by her husband, family, friends, and union sisters and brothers. Shelley Mary Diane Frechette (57) passed away on July 14 after a long illness. Shelley worked as an admitting clerk/ switchboard operator. Through out her 35-year career at West Coast General Hospital she served as Port Alberni local shop steward, OH&S steward, trustee, treasurer and senior trustee. Shelley was a key member of the “Save Our Services” campaign in Port Alberni. Her kindness, cheery smile and infectious laugh will be remembered by her colleagues. She is survived by her husband and family. On September 14, Laura Jeglum Woycheshen (48) died in a tragic hit-and-run motorcycle accident on Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge. For the past six years, Laura worked as a purchasing clerk at Health Shared Services BC (Willingdon). A 22-year HEU member, she worked at several work sites in a variety of departments, including payroll, clinical records, transportation, and linen services. “Laura was such a beautiful soul,” says Jenine Candy, Willingdon local secretary-treasurer. “She captured many hearts and made a huge impact on so many lives.” Laura is survived by her three sons and grandson.
Did you know that HEU has five standing committees? Working with HEU’s equity officers, they provide outreach and advocacy to HEU members, and work in solidarity with other social justice groups. To learn more, call 1.800.663.5813 to speak with Equity Officers Sharryn Modder and Jennifer Efting. Ethnic Diversity • Indigenous Peoples Pink Triangle • People with disAbilities • Women
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TALKING ABOUT A NEW GENERATION
Published on Dec 19, 2017