PROis a new way of voting REP where every vote counts.
HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES’ UNION
SUMMER 2018 • VOL. 36 • NO. 2
Get what you vote for. It’s that simple. Here’s how
• Mail-in ballot sent to your home Oct. 22 • Mail your completed ballot back by Nov. 30 • Call 1-800-661-8683 for assistance
WE’RE BARGAINING FOR BETTER CARE
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RETURN TO The Guardian 5000 North Fraser Way Burnaby, B.C. V5J 5M3
HEU Communications Staff PHOTOS
Guardian HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES’ UNION
Level the playing field
Health care workers need meaningful successorship provisions
HEU facilities members determine priorities, elect bargaining committee | 8
Pro Rep A new way to vote where every vote counts | 5
Poverty reduction Government prepares plan to tackle poverty | 11 Elaine Littmann PHOTO
COQUITLAM | HEU care aide Lizalyn Santos made an emotional appeal to end contracting out and contract-flipping during a July 8 rally to demand laid-off workers at Madison and Lakeshore care homes keep their jobs and their union.
AS THIS ISSUE
5 11 COLUMNS Viewpoint
Quality, affordable child care is a gateway for women to achieve equality | 6
Imagine a government that’s more diverse, representative and accountable to voters | 6
Kyra Sekhon is helping young clients live the best life they can | 13
of the Guardian goes to press, thousands of HEU members in every part of the union are either preparing to bargain, in contract talks, or conducting ratification votes on tentative agreements that have been reached. And some are fighting for their right to keep their jobs and their union membership in the face of contracting out and contract-flipping. Still others – potential HEU members – have undertaken organizing drives to join the union and be able to bargain a first collective agreement. What they all have in common is access to union representation and a charter-protected right to collectively bargain for improvements to their compensation and overall working and caring conditions. But for many HEU members, securing these gains can be a struggle. That’s because the ability of health care workers to join a union, negotiate improvements to their wages and working conditions – and protect those gains – has been seriously undermined by legislation that encourages privatization, contracting out and contract-flipping. Despite a change in government, these laws and other policies brought in by the former B.C. Liberal government continue to wreak havoc across our health care system.
Specifically, Bill 29 - the Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act and Bill 94 the Health Sector Partnerships Agreement Act have resulted in extensive contracting out in acute care hospitals and in the province’s nursing homes. The exclusion of health care workers from meaningful successorship protections – laws that would protect workers’ jobs and collective agreement rights when work is contracted out or contractors are replaced or “flipped” – have been particularly damaging to workers, patients and residents. Earlier this year, workers at Finnish Manor and Lynn Valley Care Centre lost their jobs due to contracting out. Trades and maintenance work at Royal Inland Hospital will also be lost due to a privatized hospital expansion, approved by the former government. Termination notices have also been issued at Madison Care Centre and Lakeshore Care Centre in Coquitlam, and Inglewood Care Centre in West Vancouver – the result of contract flips. At press time, it appears that pressure from workers, resident families and health authorities may have resulted in one-off agreements that will protect workers and their union representation at these sites. But without decisive action by
government, says HEU’s secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside, more disruption can be expected in the residential care sector dominated by non-health authority employers. “Despite their public funding, care home operators can continue to contract out care and support services and flip those contracts at will,” says Whiteside. “In the process, entire staff teams are fired to make way for new subcontractors that may, or may not, rehire them. And if they
“We will continue to fight at every turn to protect our members’ jobs and collective agreements.” do, it’s without recognition of their years of service, and it’s typically at a lower wage,” says Whiteside. “We will continue to fight at every turn to protect our members’ jobs and collective agreements when contracts are flipped. But good will and one-off fixes can only take us so far. As long as the current laws are in place, workers’ rights and resident care will continue to be at risk. “The sooner our current provincial government repeals the laws and policies of the former B.C. Liberal government, the better for residents and workers,” says Whiteside.
Summer 2018 | GUARDIAN 1
COMMENT Jennifer Whiteside | Secretary-Business Manager Regardless of the sector you work in, collective bargaining offers us an important opportunity to push for the changes that will improve care and provide safer, more economically secure jobs for HEU members.
We want a care system that values workers In the facilities subsector, where rampant restructuring has wreaked havoc across the acute care system, we will not only be seeking improvements in compensation, health and safety, workloads and workers’ rights, we will be demanding a seat at the table when it comes to any further “transformation” in health care. Neither is it acceptable that privatization and contracting out continue to fragment and destabilize the health care workforce – practices that disproportionately affect women and racialized workers. So make no mistake, we will also be demanding an end to contracting out, and contract-flipping, wherever it occurs. Regardless of the sector you work in, however, collective bargaining offers us an important opportunity to push for the changes that will improve care and provide safer, more economically secure jobs for HEU members. Because what we want, across the board, is a more stable, responsive health care system – one that values workers, as well as patients and residents. We know success can only be achieved if frontline workers are involved in shaping future changes. And that future changes must not throw workers out of a job. We’re looking for changes at the bargaining table this fall to ensure that our members are able to deliver the best care, not the cheapest care, with dignity and under conditions that are safe and secure. It’s time.
Dan Keeton, Pacific Tribune Collection PHOTO
THROWBACK HEU HISTORY
CHANGE. It’s something we’re facing in our union, in health care, and in our political system. And while change is nothing new for HEU members – who have been dealing with ongoing change and upheaval in the workplace for decades – we must seize the moment we are in to help shape it and bring positive change to our union and the health system. Four out of every five HEU members are bargaining collective agreements this year. In the public sector – facilities, community health, and community social services – and in our growing independent long-term care sector. We spent two months earlier this year travelling the province and talking with hundreds of members about their working conditions as we prepare for bargaining. It’s clear that HEU members are working incredibly hard every day to deliver the best care possible to British Columbians. No matter what job you do – whether you are a unit clerk, a maintenance worker, a housekeeper, a care aide or a lab assistant – you are doing it without the support and tools you need. And more often than not, under enormous stress. It is also clear that the fragmentation in our system – the result of a generation of underfunding, privatization and restructuring under the Liberals – makes it more difficult for our members to do their jobs, more difficult for our stewards to respond to workplace problems, and it impacts the seniority rights of our members.
OPERATION SOLIDARITY REMEMBERED Thirty-five years ago, on August 10, 1983, HEU members were among the more than 50,000 protesters who packed Vancouver’s Empire Stadium to protest the Social Credit government of the day’s unprecedented attack on labour and human rights. 2 GUARDIAN | Summer 2018
A month earlier, public and private sector unions had formed Operation Solidarity to resist the extreme cutbacks agenda. They were quickly joined by the Solidarity Coalition and Women Against the Budget which, together, created the biggest fightback campaign B.C. has ever seen.
Your union. Your paper.
AN ALL-OUT CAMPAIGN to stop layoffs at two care homes in Coquitlam has ended in a win for workers, the residents they care for, and their families. In May of this year, about 100 care staff at privately owned, publicly funded Madison and Lakeshore care centres voted to join HEU. Three weeks later, the care centres’ owner announced their long-time subcontractor was suddenly retiring and closing her companies. The same subcontractor also employed the support staff at the facilities, so it was not only the new
Family member Kate Cochlan told Fraser Health board members to recognize that care workers are the ones who carry residents’ history, who know their needs, their pasts, and their interests.
HEU members who received termination notices, but also about 50 housekeeping staff who were in the midst of an organizing drive. “This was union-busting, plain and simple,” said HEU secre-
tary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside. “And our members were not about to let it happen.” Almost immediately, members and organizers leapt into action to fight the mass layoffs with petitions, a letterwriting campaign, family meetings, appeals to politicians and decisionmakers, and a July 8 rally that grabbed widespread media attention. A pivotal moment in the fightback occurred on June 13, when they took their case to the Fraser Health Authority (FHA) board meeting. Workers and family members packed the room to speak passionately about the devastating impact the pending layoffs would have on residents, families and staff. Some family members fought tears as they talked about the quality of care and the personal relationships built between the care staff – some of whom had worked at the facilities for 10 to 15 years – and their loved ones. “Over 100 people are going to be fired. That’s something we want to stop. We are going to look at all our legal options to exert pressure on this company to find a better solution,” pledged FHA Board chair Jim Sinclair. Later that week, a group of workers and family members met with Coquitlam MLA Selina Robinson and asked for her support. As the campaign gained momentum, more than 1,600 people signed a petition calling on both the FHA and B.C.’s Minister of Health to stop the layoffs. Finally, after weeks of pressure, an agreement was reached between HEU,
Elaine Littmann PHOTOS
Fightback stops mass care home layoffs
FRASER HEALTH | HEU members above were among the dozens of workers and family members who packed the June 13 FHA board meeting to protest the pending layoffs at Lakeshore and Madison care centres.
the FHA and the care centres’ owner that will protect workers’ jobs, and ensure continuity of care for residents. “It was a hard-fought campaign,”
This agreement is due to the courageous workers who stood up for what is right, family members who stood up for their loved ones, and the FHA who did everything in their power to bring stability to the situation. says Whiteside. “This agreement is due to the courageous workers who stood up for what is right, and family members who stood up for their
loved ones. And the Fraser Health Authority – who after publicly promising they would do everything in their power to bring stability to the situation – did.” Whiteside says while she is pleased the situation was resolved in this case, more is required. “We will continue to push for the legislative changes that are needed to protect health care workers over the long term,” says Whiteside. “We are encouraged by the BC NDP’s election platform commitment to deal with the larger issues around contracting out and contract-flipping,” says Whiteside. “And that they recognize the impact these practices have on relationship-based care.” ELAINE LITTMANN
YOUR UNION Important HEU convention deadlines HEU’s 31st biennial convention will be held at Vancouver’s Hyatt Regency Hotel from November 4 to November 9. Delegates will debate and vote on proposed resolutions and constitutional amendments, submitted by locals, to help guide the union’s direction over the next two years, and also elect a new Provincial Executive (P.E.). Credentials, proposed resolutions and constitutional amendments are due at the Provincial Office by Tuesday, August 7 at
5:00 p.m. No late submissions will be accepted. The union’s Constitution and By-Laws includes a process for delegates to campaign for P.E. positions, including submitting a candidate photo and a bio with a 200-word statement either online or by email. Deadline is August 7 at 5:00 p.m. This year, we’ve streamlined the process to make it more environmentally and user-friendly, including a Word template and an online webform. If you need a copy of the Word template, please email heu@heu. org and your request will be for-
warded to HEU communications. Provincial Office staff will edit bios for grammar, spelling and typos, but will not edit for style or length. No handwritten, scanned or faxed submissions will be accepted. These photos, bios and statements will be formatted in a standardized style and posted on the union’s website in the HEU convention section, and will be included in a special mailing to delegates in September. Any submissions after the August 7 at 5:00 p.m. deadline will not be included. In addition, P.E. candidates can
ask the Provincial Office to photocopy 1,000 black-and-white copies of a printer-ready, lettersized leaflet for distribution. The Provincial Office will not provide format, layout, editing assistance or folding of leaflets. Candidates must email their leaflet to email@example.com by September 21 at 5:00 p.m. The photocopies will be ready for pick up, or mailing, to the candidate within two weeks. Please specify an address you want the leaflets mailed to, or whether you want to pick them up at convention, or at the Provincial Office.
Summer 2018 | GUARDIAN 3
IT’S THE LAW
UN law protects against anti-union discrimination THE LAW OF BARGAINING has many sources. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees workers the right to unionize, bargain collectively and strike. Provincial labour codes require employers to recognize certified trade unions and protect workers from anti-union discrimination. And there is international law. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency that brings together governments, employers and workers from 187 countries to set international labour standards. There are eight core ILO conventions covering subjects such as freedom from forced labour, freedom from discrimination at work and freedom of association. To be bound by the standards set in these conventions, however, governments must ratify them. Convention 98 – the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention was adopted by the United Nations in 1949. It requires governments to ensure all workers are protected against anti-union discrimination in their employment. And it requires governments to promote collective bargaining between employers and unions. For 68 years, Canada refused to ratify this convention. While it is true the protections under Convention 98 already exist under the charter and provincial labour codes, the international system offers another layer of government accountability. If a convention is ratified, governments are required to periodically report to the ILO about how the standards are being upheld. Also, employees and unions can complain directly to the ILO if they believe the government is violating the convention, which can bring international attention to a particular labour issue. Last summer, Canada reversed its position and decided to ratify Convention 98. Not only does this signal a commitment to workers’ rights, it also provides unions with another avenue to hold Canadian governments accountable.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Members set union policy ONE OF THE MOST important rights we have is the right to join a union and bargain a legally binding collective agreement. On the eve of HEU’s biennial convention and our 75th anniversary, it’s a perfect time to reflect on how far we’ve come as a democratic, member-driven union. Over the decades, convention has grown from dozens of members gathering in formal wear in the early days of the union, to hundreds of delegates huddled in a large outdoor tent, to more recently, several hundred joining together in hotel conference centres. Each convention gets bigger and bigger, a clear indication that members want to actively participate in the democracy of their union. And with public sector bargaining on the horizon, or in full swing, it’s also timely to remind HEU members about how the democratic structure of the union works. After all, members are the union. The more members understand about their union, the more active and engaged members can become. And the more involved members can become in protecting their own rights at work and those of their co-workers. In recent years, HEU has seen the demographics of our membership change dramatically, with a growing number of young workers and new members.
At recent conferences, workshops and meetings, an increasing number of members are attending a union function for the first time. So, what exactly is convention? Held every two years, convention is our union’s parliament. It’s where HEU delegates – elected province-wide by their locals – bring forward resolutions and constitutional amendments to debate and vote on. This determines the union’s policies and priorities, as guided by the HEU Constitution and By-Laws. During convention, delegates also elect HEU’s Provincial Executive. The proposed resolutions and constitutional amendments at convention are different from bargaining demands that are passed at bargaining conferences. Bargaining demands help determine the union’s position on improvements to working conditions, wages and benefits at contract negotiations. They have a direct impact on members’ work lives, but don’t alter the provisions in the Constitution and By-Laws, or establish policy. Although convention and bargaining are quite different, they are complementary in helping to improve the lives of HEU members and their families. BRENDA WHITEHALL
YOUR UNION Former Pioneer House member honoured HEU’s Pioneer-CRESST local in New Westminster has officially changed its name to honour a member who passed away. Their new name is the David Beamish local. Beamish was the founder of Pioneer House, which was supported by the Riverview Hospital Volunteer Association and opened in 1982. He was instrumental in organizing the staff to unionize. In 1983, the staff were certified under local 2794 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 4 GUARDIAN | Summer 2018
and their first local meeting was held on January 7, 1984. Since then, it became a local of the Hospital Employees’ Union. “By naming the local after Brother David Beamish,” says chairperson Paul Michaels, “it not only serves as a fitting tribute to our late founding member, but also historically returns us to our roots as a union local.”
Report all health and safety incidents According to WorkSafeBC stats, health care is still one of the most dangerous places to work.
That’s why it’s critical for HEU members to report all workplace occupational health and safety incidents, including near misses and any exposures to harmful substances (i.e. chemicals). HEU members, who work for any of B.C.’s health authorities, should notify the provincial Workplace Health Call Centre (1-866-9229464) should an incident occur. Once you report the incident, the call centre is obligated to inform your employer and give you a copy of your incident report. This triggers the steps for employers to investigate the incident and explore preventative
measures, and also tracks information for WorkSafeBC claims. Investigations must include the participation of HEU’s joint occupational health and safety committee members. Incident investigations need to start immediately after an incident occurs, with preliminary findings reported within 48 hours. Full outcomes must be reported to WorkSafeBC within 30 days of the event. If you need medical attention, or have lost time from work, call WorkSafeBC Teleclaim at 1-888967-5377 to start a claim. For HEU members covered by
The greatest way to defend our democracy is to make it work. TOMMY DOUGLAS
What can our democracy look like? With a critical referendum on changing B.C.’s electoral system coming up this fall, HEU members will have an opportunity to choose a new way to vote that makes voting fairer for everyone.
VOTE PR | New Zealand’s former Prime Minister Helen Clark is a strong advocate for adopting proportional representation as a more democratic electoral system.
ing a more proportional voting system. Back then, she was dead against change. For her, Anglo-American democracies like New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain and Canada had always used the first-past-the-post
admitted Clark during her recent B.C. speaking tour sponsored by the Broadbent Institute in support of Pro Rep, is scary. But when New Zealanders voted overwhelmingly in favour of Pro Rep in two back-to-back refer-
affiliate and independent contracts, your employer needs to have a process like the call centre, such as paper work (incident forms), for reporting workplace incidents. If you have any questions, you can email HEU’s OH&S representatives at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
OH&S stewards – who have at least two years of experience – the workshop is an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and the role of the union and employer in addressing it. It also explores ways to raise awareness among the membership, and how to best support members who may be experiencing domestic violence, including how to recognize and respond to the warning signs and risk factors, and what community supports are available.
How can work be safe when home isn’t? In September, HEU is offering a brand new workshop on domestic violence and how it impacts the workplace. Intended for shop stewards and
endums in 1992 and 1993, Clark’s party, which has similar roots in progressive politics to the BC NDP, recognized the public wanted change. And so she and her party embraced Pro Rep. “People voted for it and we had to get on and make it work,” says Clark who became New Zealand’s Prime Minister in 1999, three years after the switch to Pro Rep. “And I did get on with making it work – with nine years of minority government, but very successful minority governments which got a lot done.” That New Zealanders loved their new voting system is not a surprise to Maria Dobrinskaya, Vote PR BC spokesperson. “Pro Rep will mean government that’s more accountable to voters, and MLAs who will put people ahead of party interests,” says Dobrinskaya whose coalition for Pro Rep represents nearly 30 organizations, including HEU. “It also makes parties more accountable and cooperative – and that’s why most democracies in the world have already switched to proportional representation.” For Clark, the need for greater cooperation by political parties under Pro Rep, and a greater role for the public between elections in terms of shaping government policy has been hugely popular in her country. In the end, New Zealanders
If Pro Rep passes this fall in B.C., we can help lead the way for the rest of Canada and join the majority of Western democracies that have made the move to a more fair system – one that puts people first. away from the old system to more proportional voting. Even in England, there is now talk of changing to Pro Rep, when earlier this summer, a new all-party parliamentary committee was struck to look at adopting the system at all levels in the UK. “If England embraces Pro Rep next, that will leave only Canada and the United States as the only Anglo-American democracies using the outdated, status-quo voting system,” says Dobrinskaya. “But if Pro Rep passes this fall in B.C., we can help lead the way for the rest of Canada and join the majority of Western democracies that have made the move to a more fair system – one that puts people first.” NEIL MONCKTON
Elaine Littmann PHOTO
system. Moving to proportional representation, or Pro Rep, where each party gets the same percentage of seats as the percentage of votes they receive, was unknown. Plus, if New Zealand changed to Pro Rep, it would be the first Westminster-style parliamentary democracy to do so. And change, Broadbent Institute PHOTO
It’s called proportional representation, or Pro Rep. But changing to a new system can be daunting to voters. Just ask Helen Clark, the former leader of New Zealand’s Labour Party. As a young party leader in the early 1990s, Clark was asked what she thought about her country adopt-
embraced Pro Rep as it was a system with a lot more dialogue and consultation. Voters were tired of the one-party dictatorship where the government of the day got 100 per cent of the power despite winning only 40 per cent of the vote. With Pro Rep, they felt they were no longer taken for granted. Today, New Zealand has been joined by Australia, Wales and Scotland – countries that all moved
JAGMEET SINGH | HEU staff grabbed a moment – and a selfie – with federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh when he recently stopped by the Provincial Office in Burnaby. Singh was at HEU’s headquarters meeting with labour leaders and health care workers about the need for a universal prescription drug plan. Learn more at <http://www.aplanforeveryone.ca/>. Summer 2018 | GUARDIAN 5
WORKING FOR YOU
HEU’S EXECUTIVE ADMINISTRATORS support our elected Provincial Executive in a vast range of duties from financial management, event planning, Provincial Office management, and services and opportunities for members. If you have ever needed assistance with travel arrangements, bursaries, local issues and elections, or event registration, you may have been helped by one of our hardworking team (left to right) Barb Gergely, Shelley Mosher, Terry Collins and Patti da Silva.
Elaine Littmann PHOTO
HERE ARE THE WOMEN WHO MAKE IT HAPPEN
Donisa Bernardo | Financial Secretary
As part of the government’s child care program, thousands of British Columbian families are seeing a reduction in their monthly child care expenses.
ACCESS TO QUALITY, affordable child care is the gateway for women to achieve social and economic equality. Because without it, women are unable to return to work or school. We know family-supporting jobs and training opportunities are key to lifting people out of poverty. That’s why we continue to push government to address child care, affordable housing, and access to public services to improve the lives of British Columbians. I’m proud HEU has joined with labour and community organizations to advocate for a $15 an hour minimum wage and a $10-a-day child care program. We do this because it’s the right thing to do. Like access to universal health care and education, safe and affordable child care should be a human right for Canadian families. B.C.’s $10aDay campaign calls for more licensed child care spaces, lower parent fees, and better wages and working conditions for early childhood educators. I was encouraged in February, when BC NDP Finance Minister Carole James announced the government’s Child Care BC initiative, a one billion dollar investment over three years. Who benefits?
As part of the program, thousands of British Columbian families are seeing a reduction in their monthly child care expenses. The Fee Reduction Initiative, launched in April, has benefited some 37,200 children whose parents are paying up to $350 a month less per child. And in September, the Affordability Benefit will improve licensed child care subsidies for families with infants and toddlers. Families whose annual income is $45,000 or less will receive a monthly subsidy of $1,250 per child, while families with annual incomes under $111,000 will receive monthly rebates on a sliding scale. As the program rolls out, the provincial government estimates about 86,000 families will benefit from this initiative by 2021. So, what does this mean for working families, especially working mothers? It means women have more opportunities to achieve equality. It means women can go to work feeling secure that their children are receiving safe care in a stimulating learning environment. It means women in low-waged jobs can afford to work and put their kids in day care. It means women can pursue their careers without the pressure to stay at home due to the financial barriers of child care costs. It means women can contribute to pension plans. These new government policies are putting average working families first. And isn’t that the way it should be?
6 GUARDIAN | Summer 2018
Victor Elkins | President
PRESIDENT’S DESK Imagine a government that’s more diverse, representative and accountable to voters, with MLAs who put people ahead of party interests.
LIKE MOST MEMBERS, before Premier
John Horgan announced last fall he would fulfill his campaign promise to hold a referendum on updating our voting system, I didn’t know much about proportional representation. But now that voters have an opportunity to cast their ballots in October and November on whether to adopt proportional representation, or Pro Rep, I have come to believe that this is not only a unique moment in B.C.’s history to make voting more fair, but a chance to significantly improve our democracy. With Pro Rep, a party that gets 40 per cent of the votes gets 40 per cent of the seats in B.C.’s legislature. It’s that simple. It means people get the representation they vote for, and every vote will count. By electing MLAs through Pro Rep, there will be a profound improvement on what happens between elections, as well. For HEU members, this is perhaps the most important reason to vote for change, because it means an end to extreme anti-union policies that punish workers and public services.
Why vote for Proportional Representation?
Right now, a majority government can be elected with 40 per cent of the vote – or less. Or put another way, 60 per cent of the electorate can end up being governed by a party they did not vote for, or actively opposed. Plus, under our current system, a governing party has no reason to cooperate with opposition parties. Instead, it can ram through its agenda, no matter how extreme. For working people that can mean collective agreements are ripped up, thousands of public sector workers are fired, or services are privatized. Sound familiar? But, under Pro Rep, a governing party with less than 50 per cent of the vote won’t be able to make radical public policy swings. Instead, under Pro Rep, MLAs and parties would need to cooperate and work together on issues that matter to regular British Columbians. Plus, all regions of B.C. would have representation in government – regardless of which party wins. Imagine that, a government that’s more diverse, representative and accountable to voters, with MLAs who put people ahead of party interests. That’s why I hope every HEU member and their family members will get behind Pro Rep this fall. We need it. Our democracy needs it. Now, more than ever. Let’s do it.
bargaining 2018 COMMUNITY SOCIAL SERVICES, COMMUNITY HEALTH
Ratification votes in the works HEU members in the union’s Community Health and Community Social Services sectors wrapped up their bargaining conferences this spring. And contract talks kicked off almost immediately after – in mid-May. Four weeks later, the Community Bargaining Association (CBA) had reached tentative agreement with the Health Employers Association of BC, and the Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA) had concluded a tentative contract with the Community Social Services Employers Association. At press time, members in each sector were voting on whether or not to accept the new, three-year contracts. If adopted, those contracts will come into effect April 1, 2019. Over the past 16 years, workers in both sectors have borne the brunt of underfunding and understaffing. And they are among the lowestwaged workers in the province’s public sector. Community health workers provide vital assistance to society’s most vulnerable, carrying huge caseloads in their efforts to help people access care, housing, food, support and life skills. Community social services workers also support vulnerable citizens in a variety of settings including group homes, transition houses, addiction centres, and more. During HEU’s community health bargaining conference on May 8 and 9, members spoke passionately about the value of their work and the many challenges they face on the job. And they elected a bargaining committee to represent their priorities at the multi-union CBA, which negotiates on behalf of eight unions, including HEU. The two-day community social services bargaining conference on April 23 and 24, also heard from members regarding the deteriorating conditions in the sector and how their work
Patty Gibson PHOTO
Early contract negotiations concluded tentative agreements for both sectors in May
BARGAINING CONFERENCE | During HEU’s two-day Community Social Services bargaining conference in April, members graphically illustrated their top bargaining issues.
supports people to participate as full citizens in society. As one delegate put it, “we’re here to try and repair a broken system.” CSS delegates also elected a bargaining committee to bring their issues forward to the multiunion CSSBA, which negotiates on behalf of 10 unions. HEU is the third largest union in the association, which is led by BCGEU. Following an intensive four weeks of negotiations at the two tables, both concluded with tentative agreements that secured six per cent
wage increases over the life of the two contracts, and significant funding to facilitate low-wage redress. Together, those agreements, which are among the first to be settled in the public sector this year, cover more than 30,000 workers across the province. Bargaining in the facilities subsector, where HEU secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside is the lead negotiator, has not yet commenced.
Bargaining underway in HEU’s independent long-term care sector WHILE BARGAINING IS IN FULL SWING in the public sector, HEU members in the union’s independent seniors’ care sector are also heading into negotiations this summer. About 1,800 members at 11 sites owned by Retirement Concepts have begun bargaining. All their collective agreements but one will have expired by the end of 2018. The complex ownership of this chain of care homes, owned by global equity firm and insurance company Anbang, made headlines earlier this year when its assets were seized by a Chinese government regulator. This incident shone a light on the risks and costs of privatized seniors’ care and foreign ownership of public services. Despite some uncertainty, members working at Retirement Concepts homes are proceeding with bargaining as usual. Issues include workload, retention and recruitment, health and safety, and wages.
Bargaining for three sites got off to a promising start on June 6 and 7 in Nanaimo. The HEU bargaining team tabled a number of proposals aimed at improving contract language and rights at work for Beacon Hill Villa, Dufferin Care Centre and Nanaimo Seniors Village. According to bargaining committee members, conversations between the two parties were productive, and some progress was made on non-monetary issues. Negotiations will resume in late August or early September, but no future dates have been set due to vacations and summer schedules. HEU members employed by Good Samaritan — 682 workers at six long-term care homes — attended bargaining committee meetings in April. They emerged with a 99 per cent vote of support for their proposals, which include a ban on subcontracting, workload issues and short-staffing. “It’s concerning that we invest in new hires
only to have them move on because they’re overwhelmed with workload. Adequate training and orientation will ultimately result in retention of staff and greatly improve continuity and quality of care,” says Tracy Okert, a bargaining team member from Heron Grove. Contract talks began in early May. So far, important progress has been made on issues of employee education, orientation, training and in-services. The bargaining committee is looking forward to September when they expect the pace of bargaining to pick up. The union is seeking renewed contracts at six assisted living and long-term care facilities at five locations – Christenson Village, Heron Grove, Hillside Village & Pioneer Lodge, Village Heights and Village by the Station. Independent bargaining also continues at other individual sites. Summer 2018 | GUARDIAN 7
HEU Communications Staff PHOTOS
We’re bargaining for ONE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL THINGS we do in the labour movement is bargain gains for our members. Our strength lies in our determination to look after each other and to make sure everyone is taken care of. IRENE LANZINGER President, B.C. Federation of Labour
A collective agreement is a living document that’s revised after every round of bargaining. Its contents are negotiated through a series of tough talks between the union and employers, and then ratified by members. It guarantees wages, benefits and working conditions, and is every union member’s most valuable resource. Securing a contract is never easy. It’s a challenging and, at times, an exhausting experience. But it’s the foundation on which a trade union is built, and the epitome of membership democracy. “Solidarity has and will always be the cornerstone of efforts to advance workers’ rights,” said HEU secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside, as the union prepares for upcoming negotiations for a renewed contract covering 38,000 HEU members in the facilities subsector. Whiteside is the lead negotiator of the multi-union Facilities Bargaining Association. The process officially kicked off in May when more than 200 delegates gathered from across the province for HEU’s 21st Facilities Bargaining Conference. Members debated and voted on demands – submitted by locals, equity standing committees, and the union’s Provincial Executive – and elected a new bargaining committee. It includes Jesse Winfrey (Cowichan Valley), Debbie Dyer (Royal Columbian), Erica Carr (PHSA Amalgamated), Dexter Basbas (St. Paul’s), Candace Charalambidis (Victoria General), Donna Thibeault (Boundary), Heather Barschel (Prince George), Ivy Eriksen (Campbell River), Debra Quesnel (Swan Valley) and Barbara Owen (Royal Columbian). HEU president Victor Elkins and financial secretary Donisa Bernardo will also join Whiteside and the bargaining committee when they commence negotiations with the Health Employers Association of BC. “It was really inspiring to see so many new and young activists throw their hat in the ring to be on the bargaining committee,” said Bernardo. “This is an incredible opportunity for new members to be more engaged in their union and to learn from our seasoned and experienced local leaders.” Elkins says he’s encouraged by the growing number of members stepping up to get involved in HEU – whether it’s attending educational workshops
What NEW DELEGATES said KARREN FERREIRA South Okanagan local
I’m really, really impressed by the preparatory work that’s been done by the bargaining demands committee. I appreciate all the work they did and in fact, I would like to be part of that next time. I think it’s super important to try to focus everybody on the really important things. Hopefully, people will get more involved this time in the whole process.
TINA THIESSEN FHASupport Services Facility local I think what I will take back to our local is the awareness of how it’s not just us that deals with work-
8 GUARDIAN | Summer 2018
load, it’s everyone who deals with workload issues, and how all of our issues are really very much the same.
When you hear everybody come together in a conference and speak on it, it just nails it. We’ve got a big problem and the bargaining table is where to address it.
I’ve met a lot of new brothers and sisters from as far away as the North.
B.C. Cancer Clinic local/Prince George local I loved the camaraderie and the tightness of the group. It just reaffirmed that I feel proud to be an HEU member. It’s mind-blowing to see the work that goes behind all of this, to know that behind the scenes there’s a group of dedicated people putting together what they felt was the best and what was most important to fight for.
South Delta local
There’s a lot of eagerness in the younger generation. So, it’s nice to see the balance on the bargaining committee – from the younger to the older generation. We all have different opinions on everything but we still come back to a better solution for the betterment of all the HEU members.
GAIL MINOSKY Menno local I’ve learned a lot. I thought I knew more than I did know. Everybody seems to be want-
better care and summer school, or regional meetings and conferences. Whiteside also highlighted the detrimental effects of privatization, “It’s so important for our activists to take those experiences back to the restructuring and consolidation, especially in the Lower Mainland, and shop floor and apply their newfound knowledge to improve the working con- how this move has fractured our health care system. ditions for all our members,” said Elkins. “It’s what builds a stronger union.” She cited an example of a health records clerk (“Parminder”) who worked During the two-and-a-half day conference held at the Sheraton Vancouver at Royal Columbian Hospital in the Fraser Health Authority (FHA). In 2011, Airport Hotel in Richmond, delegates addressed issues related to wages, Parminder’s job was transferred to Providence Health Care (PHC) as part of job security, health and safety (including workload and violence), equity, restructuring. and work-life balance. So, although Parminder still reports to work at Royal Columbian – doing Delegates also heard from guest speakers. Feminist economist and the exact same job – PHC is now her employer. She cannot post into any researcher Iglika Ivanova, from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, other department at her facility because she’s no longer an FHA employee. presented a broad analysis of B.C.’s economy, which highlighted the sig- And if Parminder is injured and requires accommodation outside of her nificant changes in budget priorities that are taking place job, her options are much more restricted. under the province’s NDP government. “These changes create unstable and chaotic work And B.C. Federation of Labour president Irene “We can have a more environments where the team delivering the care is Lanzinger brought a solidarity message on behalf of responsive health care completely fragmented,” said Whiteside. “It means her 500,000 members. “One of the fundamental things system – one that responds to stress. It means strain. It means heavy workloads. And we do in the labour movement is bargain gains for our workers, as well as the needs this pressure-cooker environment contributes greatly to members,” she said. injury rates in our sector.” of patients and residents – to And Lanzinger told delegates that “our strength lies in But Whiteside is hopeful the worst is now behind the our determination to look after each other and to make deliver the best care, not the union, as there’s now a government in power who is sure everyone is taken care of… We are here, if you need cheapest care.” committed to protecting quality, public services accesus, to support you in this round of bargaining.” sible to all British Columbians. “We can create working environments that respect diversity, and where EQUITY AND JOB SECURITY KEY PRIORITIES health care is responsive to all the communities it serves,” she said. “That In her keynote address, Whiteside spoke about the value of HEU mem- means services must be accessible. And they must be delivered with combers’ work, their on-the-job challenges, and how the BC Liberals’ targeted passion and respect.” labour attack over 16 years eroded workers’ rights, wages, benefits and job Whiteside reminded members that the bargaining process is an opportunisecurity protections. ty to make gains for health care workers and the crucial services they deliver. “Our contracting-out language was unjustly taken away – attacking the “We can have a more responsive health care system – one that responds dignity of our members and robbing them of their livelihoods,” Whiteside to workers, as well as the needs of patients and residents – to deliver the told delegates. “And because members fought Bill 29 all the way to the high- best care, not the cheapest care.” est court in the land, collective bargaining rights for all workers are now Bargaining updates will be available on the union’s website during conprotected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” tract talks. BRENDA WHITEHALL
ing the same outcome and I know I do. I think we’re all united. A lot of it is about safety. Safety for the worker, which is very important. The safer we are, the safer the resident is.
Salt Spring Island local I’ve been a care aide for a year and have never been in a union before. But, just having the opportunity and knowing that there is a big group of people out there who all just want to help each other and make sure we all succeed and are all treated fairly is just really great.
DALE STENNES Nanaimo local I just think there’s a sense of, overall, there’s a lot of similarities and issues across the board.
I’ve been a member for 13 years and I just wanted to get more involved as a representative, to add a bit of a voice to trades and maintenance which is definitely a smaller part of the whole but as a group has similar issues. It’s been nice to see.
One thing I’m impressed with is how committed everybody is to dealing with the workload. It’s a huge issue, especially in small sites in the North where we can’t get bodies.
It’s nice to see the camaraderie amongst everybody, pulling together for one common goal.
St. Michael’s local For me, this is like an eye-opening experience. I really learned a lot from all the members. I met some new friends here from other work sites so if I have a work site problem, I can stay in touch with them, and see how they do things there and what I can learn from them.
Burns Lake local
TYREL PROULX Fort St. John local
It’s been a huge learning experience. You find out that you share a lot of common ground, like with workloads and short-staffing, Everyone has pretty much the same mindset. Summer 2018 | GUARDIAN 9
News from here and around the world
WISCONSIN, PUERTO RICO
How do workers win without rights?
U.S. SUPREME COURT DEALS BLOW TO UNIONS
AFTER YEARS of watching government defund schools, West Virginia teachers and support workers took illegal action and walked off the job in February. In the process, they shut down 55 counties. To keep the public onside, teachers organized day-long workshops for students which eased the child care burden on parents, and accommodated members who couldn’t walk the line all day. The momentum to strike swelled up from the rank-and-file bringing leadership with it. Superintendents of all 55 counties closed the schools. And despite pressure, they refused to ask the State Attorney General to force educators back to work. By engaging in communitybuilding, maintaining solidarity and demonstrating an unwavering commitment to militant action, the teachers and support workers won a five per cent raise after a nine-day illegal strike. And all state employees’ wages were equalized to the new standard of five per cent. In Puerto Rico, teachers are fighting to keep their very classrooms. After a decade-long recession, crippling debt and Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s governor now wants education reform. About 170 schools have already been closed, and 265 more are on the chopping block. As part of the reforms, the governor has announced the introduction of charter schools and a voucher system, which would heavily privatize the public system.
American public sector unions representing federal employees were dealt a devastating blow on June 27 when the Supreme Court ruled that public employees covered by collective agreements do not have to pay union dues. The court, which recently tipped to the right of the political spectrum with the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch, decided that “fair share” provisions which require members to pay fees for collective bargaining costs – even if they did not choose to join the union – violates their First Amendment rights. The 22 “fair share” states will join the 28 “right to work” states in prohibiting the practice. Without a provision to mandate union dues, nonunion members will benefit from collective bargaining without paying for it. Public sector union officials predict that they could lose up to 30 per cent of their members and millions of dollars in revenue in affected states. Likely, over time, wages will drop as they have in “right to work” states. However, this year many of those states are experiencing mass demonstrations, illegal strikes and union growth.
John Raby PHOTO / Associated Press/ wvpublic.org
TAKING ACTION | West Virginia teachers hold signs at a rally during a nine-day illegal strike earlier this year.
Teachers are fighting the reforms – school by school, and neighbourhood by neighbourhood. After the hurricane, when teachers saw no action from government, they started clearing schools of debris, making repairs and re-opening classrooms. Their movement has since led to community-supported mass demonstrations, school occupations and legal challenges. To fight the closure of schools, the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (AMPR), with the support of parents, is suing the government over the lack of transportation to new schools and the disappearance of programs for special-needs students. And on May Day, educators and supporters marched on the capital. Despite being met with police
brutality, they are charging ahead, knowing they can win because they’ve fought – and won – before. In June, the first of four lawsuits was successful when a judge ordered a stop to the closure of nine institutions with a recommendation that other judges do the same in the remaining cases. And on July 9, legislation allowing charter schools and the voucher system was ruled unconstitutional. Government had planned on phasing in charter schools based on standardized testing with the goal of converting 10 per cent of the public schools to charter schools by August. But teachers refused to give students the tests. This, combined with other tactics, is helping Puerto Rican educators hold their ground. SARA ROZELL
NEWSBITES The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority’s innovative C. difficile Canine Scent Detection project was developed by a team of experts to help minimize the spread of the hospital-acquired infection – through early detection and education – by training dogs to detect the scent of C. diff. Since 2016, the team – led by trainer Teresa Zurberg and her Springer Spaniel Angus – has searched hundreds of hospital environments, primarily at VGH. Last year, Jaime Kinna and her Springer Spaniel Dodger joined the team. 10 GUARDIAN | Summer 2018
Get your pride on at the Queer Film Festival
Vancouver Coastal Health Authority PHOTO
Sniffing out C. difficile
Every summer, hundreds of HEU members participate in Pride activities across the province in a show of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. A comprehensive listing can be found on HEU’s website (heu.org) and Facebook page <www.facebook. com/HospitalEmployeesUnion>. Along with Pride parades and festivities, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival (VQFF) is a popular summertime event. A longtime supporter of VQFF, HEU – and the union’s Pink Triangle
At last, B.C. government to move on a poverty reduction plan IT’S A SHAME. Despite being one of the wealthiest provinces in the country, more than one in eight British Columbians lives in poverty, including one in five children. But soon, B.C. will no longer be the only province without a comprehensive plan to tackle poverty. And for HEU and the dozens of other labour and community organizations who for years pressed for action on reducing poverty, it is welcome news. Following months of public consultation that kicked off last October, Premier Horgan’s government is expected to introduce enabling legislation for a poverty reduction plan in the legislature
this fall – including legislated targets and timelines – before presenting a full plan by the end of the year. During the BC Liberals’ 16 years in office, the province became known for high income inequality, low minimum wages and social assistance supports, and long waitlists for child care and health services. Moreover, the deepening housing crisis priced people living in poverty out of their homes. In 2008, the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition was formed to develop solutions to B.C.’s poverty crisis and from its inception pressed for a poverty reduction plan. According to the Coalition,
doing nothing to reduce poverty costs B.C. as much as $9 billion annually. “For far too long, poverty was ignored, leaving too many people behind,” says B.C.’s Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson, who headed up the consultation. “[That’s why] we began by moving forward on B.C.’s first-ever poverty reduction strategy to address both the breadth and depth of poverty, and to provide supports to those who need them most.” During the ministry’s five-month public engagement process, dozens of meetings were held with thousands of British Columbians
Standing Committee – are proud to sponsor the film Call Her Ganda. It tells the story of a Filipina transwoman brutally murdered by a U.S. Marine, and the search for justice. Call Her Ganda is screening at SFU Woodward GCA on Thursday, August 16 at 7:00 p.m. For ticket information, visit <www.queerfilmfestival.ca/tickets-passes>.
plasma collection system. Health Minister Adrian Dix tabled the Voluntary Blood Donations Act which passed on May 17 with unanimous support from all parties. The legislation prohibits private companies province-wide from paying individuals for their blood and plasma. Alberta, Ontario and Quebec have similar legislative bans in place. B.C. has a limited pool of potential donors. So preventing payfor-plasma clinics from operating in the province ensures donors will not be drawn away from the voluntary blood system run by
Canadian Blood Services. This is an important victory as Canadian Plasma Resources, which operates private, for-profit collection clinics in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, was licensed by Health Canada to operate in B.C., but had yet to open a clinic here. The legislation will help protect the health and well-being of people who rely on our voluntary blood and plasma collection services. It ensures blood and plasma that’s collected in B.C. stays in Canada and can’t be sold to the highest bidder in international markets. And it also means there won’t be
Payment for blood and plasma banned
HEU joins with CUPE and the BC Health Coalition in applauding the BC NDP government for acting to safeguard our public blood and
across the province. Participants provided feedback about their experiences with poverty, how it affects individuals and communities, what can be done to reduce it, and how B.C. can put opportunities in front of people, instead of barriers. Lack of affordable housing was the top concern in almost every community, and an issue identified as one of the largest drivers
More than one in eight British Columbians lives in poverty, including one in five children. of poverty in B.C. As well, food insecurity, education and training, mental health and addiction supports, and creating good jobs that can help lift people out of poverty, were prominent themes emerging from the consultation. NEIL MONCKTON
a competitive market for voluntary donors in B.C. because they’re vital to our public system since they provide the safest blood.
New living wage set for Metro Vancouver
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) has calculated the 2018 living wage rate for Metro Vancouver. It’s now $20.91 an hour, an increase of 29 cents from the previous year. The new living wage rate is the estimated amount needed for a family of four (with two parents working full-time) to pay for necesSummer 2018 | GUARDIAN 11
We have to open up more opportunities for women to advance… and move them up the pay scale.” GRACE HARTMAN CUPE NATIONAL’S FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT
Members share common issues
Barb Nederpel PHOTO
KAMLOOPS | HEU members from the Interior gathered in late June for a two-day networking session to discuss workplace challenges and strategies.
For the past decade, HEU has held annual regional meetings as an opportunity for members to actively engage with the union’s leadership and to network with one another. “It’s incredibly energizing to meet with our members, hear their stories and learn firsthand about their workplace challenges. Working with members on ways to build a stronger, more responsive union is such a powerful experience,” says HEU secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside. Throughout May and June, more than 300 HEU members attended meetings – held in Prince George, Kamloops, Nanaimo, Surrey and Vancouver – to get an update on the state of the union and to talk about issues relevant to their
specific communities. During the two-day sessions, participants heard reports from Whiteside along with the union’s president Victor Elkins and financial secretary Donisa Bernardo, and HEU servicing directors. The meetings also included reports from HEU’s regional vice-presidents and other Provincial Executive members, along with equity discussions and occupational health and safety presentations by HEU staff. A slideshow presentation – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Looking at the union through an equity lens by HEU’s equity officers Sharryn Modder and Jennifer Efting – revealed the changing demographics in Canada and its impact on the workforce.
Using a variety of sources including Stats Canada, they reported that women working full-time are 30 per cent less likely to be promoted at work, and earn 31 per cent less than men. And more disturbing, women of colour and Indigenous women earn 37.5 per cent and 54 per cent less respectively. Equity-seeking groups also experience high levels of workplace bullying, harassment and discrimination. Studies show 25 per cent of people with disabilities have experienced bullying, while 40 per cent of LGBTQ+ people felt discrimination at work, and 21 per cent say they’ve been fired, forced to quit, or declined a job due to their LGBTQ+ status. The Fraser Health group also saw a WCB Claims and Appeals presentation, did a team-building exercise, and took part in discussions around union activism, getting members more involved in their locals, and a primer on convention. The Vancouver Coastal Health group chose elective workshops that included public sector bargaining, social media and confidentiality, making workload the employer’s responsibility, and organizing new members. But the keynote address from Whiteside focused on the union’s top priority – public sector bargaining under the province’s new political landscape. “Sixteen years of playing defense in the face of a hostile B.C. Liberal government and their deep-pocketed corporate backers is an era of B.C.’s history that I am happy to say good riddance to,” said Whiteside. “Instead, we now stand on the brink of major change, a period in our province’s history – yet to be written – that will bring with it uncertainty, but also significant opportunities to make social and economic gains for regular British Columbians.” BRENDA WHITEHALL
NEWSBITES sities, including rent, child care, food and transportation after government taxes, credits, deductions and subsidies have been factored in. The CCPA report suggests a living wage is needed to support the healthy development of children, as well as to help people escape severe financial stress and be able to participate in the social, civic and cultural events in the community. CCPA’s research shows that child care and housing were the two biggest components of the cost of living in Metro Vancouver, and notes that costs would have been higher had the B.C. government 12 GUARDIAN | Summer 2018
not introduced new child care reduction fee initiatives and cut MSP by 50 per cent. The CCPA also concludes that research shows concrete benefits for employers paying living wages – reduced absenteeism and staff turnover, increased skill, morale and productivity levels, reduced recruitment and training costs and improved customer satisfaction. 2018 living wage hourly rates in other B.C. cities: Capital Regional District (Victoria-area) $20.50, Revelstoke $19.37, Fraser Valley $17.40, Kamloops $17.31, Powell River $17.31, Parksville-Qualicum
$17.02, North Central B.C. (Prince George and Quesnel) $16.51, Comox Valley $16.59. B.C.’s minimum wage rose to $12.65 an hour in June, and will be $15.20 an hour by 2021. See <policyalternatives. ca/livingwage2018>.
Dix introduces primary health care centres
This past May, the B.C. government launched its new primary healthcare strategy to improve access to health care across the province. While one in six British Columbians are without a family doctor, the new strategy recognizes the kind of care
people need and how it’s delivered must go beyond the old doctor-patient model. For B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix, it’s clear, teambased care can better meet the needs of British Columbians. “Our priority is to find new ways of working, coordinating services and delivering care so that British Columbians don’t have to wait so long, travel so far, and search so hard for the care they need,” says Dix. The strategy means more doctors, but it will also mean more nurse practitioners and other health professionals will be part of the team providing care.
Community support worker Kyra Sekhon is motivated by her commitment to help every young person in her care live the best life they can.
Empowering young clients
Over the next three years, the strategy will establish primary care networks across 70 per cent of B.C. communities with populations between 50,000 and 100,000, and smaller populations in rural areas. The networks will provide patients with access to a full range of health care options and better support to primary health care providers. The first five networks are being rolled out in Burnaby, Comox, Prince George, Richmond and in the South Okanagan-Similkameen region. As well, 10 new urgent primary care centres are coming online over the next 12 months, starting
ON THE JOB
HEU is happy to welcome new members from Tapestry – a private, independent and assisted living facility in Vancouver. On May 9, approximately 100 new members joined the union. And, like many groups of new members, one of their first steps was to nominate and elect a bargaining committee. Pictured above are bargaining committee members (back row) Chakri Sinclair, Pete Eckmann, Sarah Swalm, (front row) Vicky Arciaga and Natalie Wallace. “I’m excited to join HEU and be part of the union. We’re ready to begin negotiations for a fair deal with our employer,” says Sinclair. In June, the bargaining committee got together for a pre-bargaining meeting to zero-in on members’ top priorities for the negotiating table. “Communication is key for both understanding and representing the interests of our co-workers,” says Sinclair. “As we bargain, we want to be on the same page and have a united voice. I take that to heart.” Sinclair expects the committee will open negotiations with the employer soon. Tapestry members provide dietary, housekeeping, direct care, programming and other administrative and operation services.
Elaine Littmann PHOTO
GETTING READY TO BARGAIN
HEU member Kyra Sekhon has a message for the youth she works with in a Victoria respite home. “You are smart and capable. You are going to be able to do it, but in a different way.” As a community support worker, Kyra focuses on teaching and modelling self-regulation and self-acceptance to youth with a wide spectrum of differing abilities. These young people will “age out” at 19, she explains, and need life skills to successfully move forward into group homes, subsidized housing or supported employment. Kyra tries to engage her clients in preparing for their adult lives. “Nobody asks them what they want, or how we can help them,” she says. Her dedication to empowering others is inspired by her sister with special needs. Kyra grew up watching her family navigate the health care system, and learned how important it is to have an advocate. “It makes all the difference,” she says. “And I saw my sister learn to become a strong advocate for herself.” Kyra is also an OH&S steward in her workplace. She believes mental health and psychosocial injuries are minimized and overlooked both in workers on the job and among When trauma happens, her young clients. you can either hide from Her own workplace mental health claim, following an incident with a client, brought home it, or you can use it to to Kyra how difficult it can be to make your voice help other people and heard in the system. She could have left her job make yourself better at at that time, she says, but decided to stay and put what you do. her experience to purpose. When trauma happens, she says, “you can either hide from it, or you can use it to help other people and make yourself better at what you do.” Kyra understands the barriers the youth face, both in the world and within, and always strives to give them the skills to take care of themselves and engage with the community. “I have a unique opportunity to help someone live the best life that they can,” she says.
in Surrey where the new facility is expected to accommodate up to 1,300 patient visits per week. These centres will both provide primary care to patients who currently do not have a family doctor or nurse practitioner, and weekend and afterhours care, taking pressure off hospital emergency departments.
B.C. Fed campaigns for sick leave provisions
The B.C. Federation of Labour has launched a campaign to add provisions for paid sick leave to the provincial Employment Standards Act. Under the Act, employers are
not required to provide workers with paid or unpaid sick leave. A survey by the B.C. Fed shows 43 per cent of B.C. workers do not receive this benefit. Ontario recently introduced 10 days of general emergency leave, including two guaranteed paid sick days. The B.C. Fed suggests this is a model to build on, although they would like to ultimately see “somewhere between five to eight paid days a year,” according to president Irene Lanzinger. The B.C. Law Institute has launched a project to review and recommend reforms to the Act, and is asking for
public input. Their deadline for submissions is August 31. The B.C. Fed’s “Level the Playing Field” campaign promotes a number of improvements to Employment Standards, the Workers Compensation Act and the Labour Relations Code, all aimed at improving employment conditions, increasing access to apprenticeship and training, making workplaces safer, and making it easier for workers to join a union. Earlier this year, the provincial government amended the Act to include more generous parental, pregnancy and compassionate care leaves. See <leveltheplayingfield.ca>. Summer 2018 | GUARDIAN 13
Equity and diversity Based on a variety of sources including Stats Canada and HEU membership surveys, the Guardian has compiled some interesting facts on equity and diversity.
1 2 3
Women working full-time still earn less than men by what percentage?
a) 31 per cent c) 23 per cent
b) 10 per cent d) 67 per cent
What is the ratio of Canadians living with a disability?
a) One in five c) One in four
b) One in three d) One in seven
Equity-seeking groups experience high rates of bullying, harassment and discrimi- nation at work and in their communities. Among LGBTQ+ members, what percent- age have faced bigotry? a) 10 per cent c) 90 per cent
COFFEE BREAK JOIN THE CONVERSATION | HEU members and their allies are actively using Facebook and other social media platforms to talk about how to make their workplaces safer, protect good jobs and provide better care. Here is a sample.
St. Paul’s Hospital overdose prevention site
Care aides and support workers do some of the most physical and emotional work and they don’t get paid properly … Changes need to happen. We need better wages as we are taking good care of our most vulnerable people
People probably feel more comfortable dealing with someone who truly understands. Sometimes giving people safety and a purpose can be the step that changes lives.
• Tami Feist-Spencer •
• Michelle Nolan •
The money is there; it’s just spent on other unimportant things. Have to start cutting at the top first! Frontline workers are making the least and expected to do the most.
For those who aren’t yet ready for abstinence, harm reduction is a better method than the stress to the medical system in the form of OD calls and the resulting cost of medical treatments.
• Dee Matsalla •
We should end contracting out, starting with the for-profit companies, and bring everything back under government control... Money for wages instead of profits. • Elizabeth R. Woods •
Privatization woes Any person that understands the management and maintenance of assets knows P3 build and operating costs more money over time than an owned and self-operated asset. • Scott MacKay •
Time for a serious shakeup in the way hospitals are run. Laundry coming back stained, damp, needles being found. This is totally unacceptable. • Linda Stoochnoff •
Privatizing these services does not save, and ends up costing us more while providing poor service. • Pat Glover •
• Stacey Durksen •
Seniors’ care Our activity aides got their hours and funding cut last year. Now the care staff are left to pick up the pieces, and they don’t have any extra time and are working overtime all the time. • Bethany Amber Whelan •
It’s great to get more care, aides but there must be beds to put the seniors in that need the care! • Patricia M. Mills •
Get connected Stay connected
b) 40 per cent d) 81 per cent
What percentage of HEU members claim membership in at least one equity group? a) 29 per cent c) 92 per cent
b) 45 per cent d) 17 per cent
Indigenous women’s incomes are lower than Caucasian women and women of colour. How much less do Indigenous women earn than Caucasian men working full-time? a) 90 per cent c) 46 per cent
b) 54 per cent d) 75 per cent
a) 11 per cent c) 37.5 per cent
b) 82.6 per cent d) 61.4 per cent
Answers: 1 (a), 2 (d), 3 (b), 4 (c), 5 (b), 6 (c)
14 GUARDIAN | Summer 2018
Marie Marshall PHOTO
Workers of colour earn less than Caucasian workers. Men of colour make 23.6 per cent less than Caucasian men working full-time. How much less do women of colour make? TEAM PLAYER | Pamela Coombe is a nursing unit assistant (unit clerk) at Wrinch Memorial Hospital in Hazelton. Since 1979, Pamela has worked in various support and clerical jobs including medical transcription, admitting, finance and accounting on the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island before moving to the North. “I like to help people, problem-solve, and work with other members on the unit as a team.”
HEU PEOPLE RETIREMENTS Dedicated activist Leonora Calingasan (St. Vincent’s-Brock Fahrni) retired in March after 23 years as an HEU member. Although for the past five years, she’s worked as a health care assistant, she spent for most of her career as an LPN at St. Vincent’s four sites – Brock Fahrni, Langara, Honoria Conway and Home and Health Community sector. Since 1994, Leonora has held many local executive positions at her work sites, and says she sincerely appreciates and thanks all of her co-workers. Her positions included secretarytreasurer, site rep, chairperson, shop steward, warden, OH&S member trustee, and labour council delegate. Leonora served from 2014 to 2016 on HEU’s Provincial Executive as Regional Vice-PresidentVancouver Coastal, and is grateful for the P.E.’s support and mentoring during her term. She served on the Ethnic Diversity Standing Committee for many years, and was actively involved in HEU’s Living Wage Campaign. During her career, Leonora attended HEU, CUPE and B.C. Fed conventions, Summer Institutes for Union Women, HEU equity conferences, and regional meetings. Leonora also volunteered for the NDP in her riding. As a retiree, she plans to continue taking courses. She also plans to enjoy more time with her family, especially her grandchildren. Congratulations, Leonora! Long-time HEU member Walter Scomazzon (Burnaby) retired in June from his Maintenance Worker V position. He spent the first eight years of his career working at Shaughnessy Hospital, followed by 25 years at Burnaby Hospital. On his local executive, he served as conductor and warden.
49,000 members in 280 locals
Walter’s retirement plans include fishing, cooking, gardening, and enjoying life with his family and friends. HEU wishes Walter all the best!
IN MEMORIAM Sadly, Carmen Rogers Jones (Royal Jubilee) recently passed away. She was on leave from her full-time care aide position at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria. Carmen was a very active member, serving on the union’s Young Workers Committee from 2014 to 2016. At her local, she served as chair, shop steward, trustee, and secretary. Carmen was also an energetic participant on her labour council, and was a member of the B.C. Fed, CUPE and CLC Young Workers’ Committees. Carmen leaves behind a young daughter and a close network of friends and comrades in the B.C. labour movement. In May, Barbara (Barb) Rennie (St. Paul’s: PHC – Abbotsford Transcription Hub) lost her long battle with cancer at the age of 58. An HEU activist, Barb was a key leader in HEU’s medical transcription fightback campaign. After the service was privatized, Barb bumped into a clerical admitting job. She fell ill shortly afterward. Barb is fondly remembered as a compassionate woman, who successfully balanced her career and family life. “I will always remember her spirit,” says HEU servicing representative Janine Brooker. “Barb worked diligently for the contracted-out medical transcriptionists to make sure they got the best deal possible as they left the health care field.” Barb will be deeply missed by her family, including her long-time partner James, her daughter, son and two granddaughters, her sister and mother, as well as the many union sisters and brothers whose lives she touched.
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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