SPRING 2014 • VOLUME 32 NUMBER 1 • THE VOICE OF THE HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES’ UNION
AGREEMENT NUMBER 40007486
RETURN TO The Guardian 5000 North Fraser Way Burnaby, B.C. V5J 5M3
SEVEN DECADES OF CARING
In 1944, hospital workers organized B.C.’s first united health care union. Those early struggles helped define today’s HEU.
FIRST P AGE REP ORT SPRING 2014
Campbell River cares The contracting out of 120 staff, at New Horizons care home in Campbell River, sparked communitywide opposition to government policies that allow profit making in residential facilities at the expense of seniors’ care.
PAUL RUDAN PHOTO, CAMPBELL RIVER MIRROR
We built this union, together.
The place was Vancouver General Hospital. The time was September 1944. The achievement was the creation of B.C.’s first united health care union. To mark HEU’s 70th anniversary, the Guardian will be presenting a three-part series on the union’s history, the first of which appears in this issue. Looking back at those early years, when health care workers first banded together to improve their working lives, it’s tempting to wonder if the more things change, the more they stay the same. After all, many of the struggles that mobilized union activism seven decades ago – decent wages, fair treatment, safer workplaces – are still with us today. Generations of HEU members who went before us made huge gains on all those fronts. Nothing was handed to them, everything was earned – at the bargaining table, in the workplace and on the picket line. Progress came in small steps and great strides. But over more than 70 years, HEU members have built a union that’s made a difference.
In our 70th year, it is entirely appropriate to remind ourselves, and each other, how important it is to use every tool at our disposal to defend the terms and conditions of our that work, organize the unorganized, and mobilize one of the most important deciour forces to protect health care for all. Andsions it provides all our with an opporwas to locals overhaul the bartunity to reach out and involve a gaining provisions of HEU’s new generation of HEU workers remains one of constitution who are the futureand of ourby-laws. union. fighting for the terms and conditions In the face of a federal governthat will improve our work, and raise ment that is steadily divesting itself of responsibility for health care (see standards of care across the health p. 12), and a provincial government that is starving the health care syssystem. tem, HEU’s commitment and leadplaces, and higher standards of care, is far ership is as necessary today as it was 70 years from over. Simply holding onto the gains ago. Through good economic times and periwe’ve made, in the current climate of fiscal restraint, is as demanding as our earlier ods of restraint, our mission remains one of fighting for the terms and conditions that will struggles to achieve them. Pensions. Health and welfare benefits. Sick improve our work, and raise standards of care leave. Parental leave. Decent wages. All these are across the health system. It’s what we owe ourselves. And it’s vulnerable to politicians and employers who are fixated on the bottom line at the expense of what British Columbians have come to expect from us. health care workers and those in their care. Our history clearly shows that HEU has consistently raised the bar for everyone – health care workers and patients, families and communities, and those who have been marginalized in the workplace. Looking forward, we know our fight for decent wages, greater respect, safer work-
There’s no question
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Invest in safety, don’t punish workers The facts on injury and illness among health care workers are deeply disturbing. For some HEU members it may come as a shock that the reported rate of injury for people working in health care is 80 per cent higher than the average rate for all B.C. workers. BONNIE PEARSON And those statistics for health care do not include the thousands of support workers who have been contracted out in our hospitals, and who are now working for private corporations. Stats for these HEU members are now reported through the “hospitality sector.” Although we most often hear about the high injury rates in our hospitals and residential care homes as they relate to those working in direct patient care, HEU members in all job families and every sector of our union are affected by unsafe work. And that includes people working in both community health and community social services. The costs to workers, employers and the system are phenomenal. But despite a direct link between injury rates for workers and employer costs, government continues to move in the wrong direction. If this was any other “industry” we could expect greater attention would be paid to prevention and concrete measures to make our workplaces safer. In the past, we have secured a number of improvements that have shown positive results in reducing injury rates. Some have come through the bargaining table. Others through regulatory changes. And many have come from enforcing our collective agreements, and holding employers to account in the workplace. The switch from manual lifts to ceiling lifts, the introduction of retractable needle-sticks, action on toxins used at the worksite are only some examples of changes that have produced tangible improve-
Salvation Army betrays its mission Shortly after the passage of the BC Liberals’ Bill 29 in January 2002, the Salvation Army used this piece of legislation to terminate its unionized care staff (Hospital Employees’ Union) at their Victoria Sunset Lodge care facility. The majority of those employees were women, many the primary wage earner for their family and/or the head of a single parent family. All had provided many years of faithful service, many 20 years or more. Why? To save money by hiring new workers into part-time jobs at lower wages. Now history repeats itself as the Salvation Army takes advantage of weak labour laws in this province and fires its unionized staff (B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union) at their
Victoria recycling centre. It’s not as though these workers were making high wages at $13.53 per hour, they would still be living at or below the poverty level for Victoria. But now the work will be done by non-union staff at a, presumably, lower wage. Again, a number of these dedicated employees have given over 20 years of service to this organization who prides itself on “generat[ing] funds to help low-income families and individuals.” In both cases, the impact of losing their jobs is devastating. Some will lose more than just a job: some will lose their homes and perhaps even their families if they are not able to support them. Claiming that this is merely a business decision is not good enough for an employer who wants to claim good work and Christian charity as its reason for being. There are many fine organizations dedicated to helping the less fortunate among us. The Salvation Army does not appear to be one of them. NANCY CZIGANY
Fir Park Echo Local
It’s about profit, plain and simple I must express the concern and anger I feel with respect to the decision of Park Place, the owners of the New Horizons seniors care facility, to lay off the 118 health care workers at the site. This action will facilitate the contracting out of those workers’ jobs. Their press release states “in line with the B.C. government’s directive to control costs, Island Health is looking at all operators to deliver care and services within their assigned funding.” Does anyone really believe this is the motive behind the action? I do not. I believe it’s about profit, plain and simple and it is wrong on so many levels. First and foremost, we must be concerned about the residents of the facility. They are our mothers and fathers who have worked their whole lives and who deserve to live out their twilight years in comfort, dignity and respect. They have formed real bonds with their caregivers. Recent experience with “contracting out” at other facilities suggests it leads to a lower standard of care. We need only look to our
ments for worker safety and demonstrable savings for government. Instead of continuing to make the investments needed to reduce work-related illness and injury, however, government and employers appear to have reversed course. One of the most glaring signals was the decision in 2010 to close the joint Occupational Health and Agency for Healthcare. At a time when health employers were preoccupied with the costs attached to absenteeism from illness and injury they removed the organization that was set up to address the safety problems in health care. And despite the recognition that mental health Despite a direct link between is one of the fastest risinjury rates for workers and ing OH&S challenges we face, they stubbornly employer costs, government refuse to deal with the continues to move in the safety issues that come from pressure cooker wrong direction. work environments. Rather than take a proactive approach, deal with workload, and make the systemic investments needed to ensure healthier workplaces, they have adopted a one-sided view that often punishes workers for their illnesses. Making health care safer is a primary objective for our union at every level. That’s why we will continue to challenge government and employers to own up to their responsibilities for ensuring our members are not put at preventable risk of illness and injury.
local hospitals for examples. Is this what we want for our seniors? Second, are the jobs themselves. Are you prepared to let a number of “good” jobs go in favour of those with substandard wages. I am not. But it’s not about me. It’s about community and family. Campbell River once had a lot of good union jobs. We lost the mill and other health care jobs were contracted out. Now, many of the good jobs are in Alberta. The average family struggles to make ends meet. This is a trend that must come to an end.
Third, we need to look to the future. We must protect and create jobs that will allow our children to stay in this community and raise their families. Unfortunately, this action by Park Place takes us in the opposite direction. I am hoping that concerned citizens will contact their MLAs to demand action, and when the next election comes around, demand that the candidates take a stand for “Quality Health Care”. TOM HOPKINS
President, Northern Vancouver Island Area Council, PSAC
On February 26, HEU members working in residential care at Vancouver’s Little Mountain Place all wore pink to celebrate Pink Shirt Day – a day of action to protest against harassment and bullying in all its forms, including cyberbullying.
ON THE COVER: This archival photograph from the Vancouver Public Library is a snapshot of day-to-day life at New Westminster’s Royal Columbian Hospital in 1953.
When does worker safety trump patient privacy? • 4 Clamping down on doctors’ “gifts” from pharmaceutical drug companies • 5 Climate change denial is ignoring the evidence • 11 How Nanaimo local is boosting member involvement in the union • 13 ARCHIVE PHOTO: BC PACKERS COLLECTION
B.C.’s labour history airs on Knowledge Network • 14
Employment security, benefits key issues at Facilities table Talks for a new agreement covering 47,000 union members bogged down by restrictive government mandate, lack of employer flexibility.
egotiations for a new similar arrangement at the Facilities table. Facilities collective HEU members already have a voice agreement ground to a in the governance of the Municipal halt in late March over Pension Plan which has been jointly a lack of progress on administered by employers and unions employment security, since 2001. benefit administration “We can work with joint goverand other key issues. nance,” says Pearson. “In fact, much And as the Guardian goes to press, better decisions could have been made HEU members in the about our benefit sector are participatplan in the past, if ing in a province-wide “When we return to the workers had more strike vote. The results table we’ll be pressing input. of that vote are to be “But a new govfor language that will announced May 1. ernance model and HEU secretary-busilong-term funding minimize the impact of ness manager Bonnie scheme must recogPearson says negotiating privatization on jobs.” nize the fact that the employment security unsafe working conprovisions to protect jobs and services ditions our members face contribute to from privatization is critical in a new benefit costs,” says Pearson. agreement, especially since a 15-month moratorium on contracting out expired EMPLOYERS TARGET on March 30. EMERGENCY WORKERS “Health employers want to establish B.C.’s ambulance paramedics, a ceiling on contracting out job losses emergency dispatchers, and adminisover the term of the agreement that is trative support workers in emergency higher than in the past,” says Pearson, health services are also included in chief negotiator for the 11 union FacFacilities negotiations, as they were ilities Bargaining Association. in 2012. “When we return to the table with a Health employers and government strong strike mandate from our memsay they want changes to their collecbers, we’ll be pressing for language that tive agreement terms and conditions will minimize the impact of privatiza(currently appended to the Facilities tion on jobs.” agreement) that would help expand the role of ambulance paramedics in MOVING TOWARD delivering health services in a commuJOINT ADMINISTRATION nity paramedicine model. OF BENEFITS “But the changes proposed by HEABC go way beyond what’s necesLast fall, the Health Employers sary to achieve this objective,” says Association of B.C. settled agreements Pearson. at both the Health Science Professional “Their demands would strip seniorand Community Health bargaining ity rights, undermine posting language tables that included a move to joint and expand their ability to eliminate administration of benefit plans. long-standing shift patterns. Those agreements give workers a “HEU members witnessed attacks on stronger voice in the administration of their long-held bargaining rights more the plan and outline a process for conthan a decade ago, and we will stand trolling the overall costs of the benefit with our CUPE sisters and brothers plan in the future. against similar attacks on their rights.” Health employers are pushing for a
HEU’s Facilities bargaining team has been in contract talks since mid-January.
There are a number of other outstanding issues at the bargaining table including premiums and allowances, sick leave, restoration of vacation days and renewed support for the FBA Education Fund. More details are available at <www.heu.org>.
WHO’S AT THE TABLE The Facilities negotiations are the largest in B.C.’s public sector covering 47,000 workers in 11 unions. HEU represents 85 per cent of those workers, with CUPE Local 873, BCGEU and IUOE Local 882 representing another 14 per cent.
Seven other unions represent less than one per cent of workers in the Facilities subsector. HEU’s provincial bargaining committee makes up a majority of voting members of the FBA bargaining committee with the balance divided between the other unions. The current set of negotiations began in mid-January. The 2012-2014 collective agreement expired on March 31 though most provisions continue to be in force while negotiations continue. MIKE OLD COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
Other recent settlements Public sector employers have reached four major settlements under the provincial government’s 2014 negotiating guidelines. Two of these settlements have been in the health sector – Community Health (led by BCGEU) and Health Science Professionals (led by HSA). In addition, settlements have been reached for Community Social Services (led by BCGEU) and for the direct provincial public service (BCGEU). ALL FOUR AGREEMENTS INCLUDE: • a five-year term • a 5.5 per cent general wage increase, with no increase in the first year • an Economic Stability Dividend providing additional increases if economic growth exceeds forecast growth. The potential additional percentage would be one-half the forecast error. In addition, both health sector agreements include a move to a joint benefit trust. There are also some low-wage redress adjustments in the community health and community social services agreements. S P R I N G
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Welcome new members from Heron Grove More than 130 health care workers employed by the Good Samaritan Society at Heron Grove in Vernon have made HEU their union of choice. Heron Grove members work in all areas of care and support as care aides, LPNs, RNs, RPNs, housekeepers, dietary aides, laundry workers, maintenance, activity aides and
What did life look like in 1944? When B.C. health care workers formed the Hospital Employees’ Union 70 years ago, life as we know it today was radically different. • The average annual salary was $2,600. • The average hourly wage was 30 cents. • Gasoline was 21 cents a gallon and a loaf of bread cost nine cents. • You could mail a letter in Canada with a threecent stamp. • Dairy products and fresh produce were delivered to the door by a milkman or farmer. • People bought meat directly from a neighbourhood butcher. •
Recycled meat bones and bacon fat were used to make explosives.
• Aluminum pots were used to help build airplanes. • The Canadian government passed the Family Allowance Act.
clerical workers. On March 20, members held their first local meeting where they elected their bargaining committee representatives and members of their local executive. Heather Rickman was elected chair of the local, Traci Hawken as vice-chair and Tracie Lyn Donesley as secretary-treasurer. One of the first orders of busi-
ness for the newly elected bargaining team was seeking input from members regarding their key issues and priorities. Bargaining commenced for Heron Grove members in the first week of April. Heron Grove is a campus of care that includes both assisted living and residential care beds.
Health and safety vs patient privacy
growing number of workplace injuries in the health care sector – including exposure to infectious diseases and violence – can often be prevented, or significantly reduced, if workers are properly informed about potential risks. So, how can workers stay safe? The waters get muddy when patient privacy laws and protecting workers’ safety become a balancing act of competing interests. And that confusion puts workers at risk. That’s why WorkSafeBC has issued clear requirements in the Workers Compensation Act (section 115) and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (section 4.27) to eliminate unnecessary hazards. These requirements are supported by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and B.C.’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC). Disclosing patient information is permitted under sections 33.1(1)(f) and 33.2(e) of FIPPA “if the information is immediately necessary for the protection of the health or safety of the... employee.” And also by the OIPC under the “need to know” rule that ensures “the right information reaches the right person at the right time for
the right purposes.” WorkSafeBC guidelines ask two key questions: “Is disclosing this information necessary to protect workers’ (or anyone else’s) safety? Will disclosing this information lead to changes in work practices to reduce the risk of injury?” If so, then disclosure is not only permitted, it’s required. Failure, or refusal, to communicate this vital information is a reportable violation, which may include administrative penalties, orders and hefty fines issued by WorkSafeBC. The “right to know” applies to the entire health care team, including housekeeping, laundry, food services, lab and others, who all need to know if they’re entering a potentially dangerous situation. Housekeeping staff are particularly vulnerable during terminal cleans if warning signs are prematurely removed from isolation room doors, exposing them to contagions like TB, MRSA, hepatitis and HIV. Although not all staff need to know the specific diagnosis, they must be told how the infectious disease is transmitted (air, blood, bodily fluids) and how to protect themselves, such as wearing gloves, masks (including N95 and oxygen), and gowns. Workers do, however, need to be warned of highly contagious hospi-
tal outbreaks like Norovirus, SARS, C. difficile and H1N1, to prevent crosscontamination. And they must know if a patient has a history of violence, or what events may trigger aggress – such as spitting, biting, hitting, kicking. In the community health and social services sectors, “risk assessments” are supposed to be conducted by case managers, or their designate, before home support services commence. This includes violence assessments and physical hazards like broken steps, poor lighting and excessive clutter (if the client is a hoarder) to avoid “slips, trips and falls.” And it incorporates risks like aggressive pets, bedbugs, head lice, or the environment’s physical layout. For example, community workers often provide health services to clients living in hotels or motels with only one door for entry or exit, posing a potential safety threat. Most injuries are preventable, if workers are informed of the risks. Keep yourself and others safe. If you have a concern, contact your local OH&S committee, HEU’s OH&S reps (email@example.com), or call the WorkSafeBC Prevention Information Line at 604-276-3100 (Lower Mainland) or toll-free 1-888-621-7233. BRENDA WHITEHALL
• Tommy Douglas was elected premier of Saskatchewan. • Universal price and rent controls were in effect. •
The federal government’s Canadian Nutrition Program was underway, promoting a healthy daily diet of the six food groups.
• Kidney dialysis and sunscreen were invented. • Automobile transportation between provinces was challenging. The Trans-Canada Highway didn’t open until 1962.
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Still no compensation for Bangladeshi workers
One year after a devastating garment factory collapse killed an estimated 1,140 Bangladeshi workers – mostly women and young girls – and severely injured hundreds more, survivors and victims’ families have yet to receive compensation. That’s why international labour and human rights organizations are mounting pressure on worldrenowned clothing retailers to be accountable and compensate victims of the Rana Plaza tragedy now. Those companies earn billions of dollars a year on the backs of disen-
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franchised textile workers. Under the leadership of the United Nations’ International Labour Organization, stakeholders formed the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee to create a comprehensive action plan – called the Arrangement – to provide eligible claimants with access to medical services and financial supports. As part of the Arrangement, a multimillion dollar Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund – financed by private and corporate donations – was established with clear guidelines for submitting claims for damages, including death, dismemberment, permanent disability,
psychological injury, and lost wages. But so far, only a fraction of the estimated $40 million needed to cover the claims has been raised. Another delay is the incomplete list of casualties because several bodies were never identified or recovered from the wreckage. Grief-stricken families have had to submit their own DNA samples in an effort to find a match to their missing loved ones to prove eligibility for compensation. The Rana Plaza catastrophe, in April 2013, put Bangladesh’s $20 billion a year garment industry under the global microscope, and forced government to introduce long overdue health
Under the influence: exposing the cozy relationship between MDs and Big Pharma When a doctor writes a prescription for a brand name pharmaceutical, should the patient also know their MD recently had a vacation in the Caribbean on the drug-maker’s dime?
research work, while the companies r better yet, should the get access to patients and colleagues to doctor be banned from increase market access of their product receiving these kinds of lines. gifts from drug compa“Countless studies show relationnies in the first place? ships with pharmaceutical represenLeading health policy tatives correlate positively with docadvocates from across tors favouring more expensive brand Canada certainly think so. name drug therapies over lower-cost For years, drug companies have rouoptions,” says Schafer. “As well, physitinely paid doctors to give talks about cians with close ties to industry too products or diseases. They have even often mis-prescribe medication.” covered the costs of sending doctors to This cozy relationship between attend professional conferences. physicians and the drug industry in But it doesn’t stop there. Canada is particularly troubling. Companies also lavish other benA recent British Medical Journal efits on doctors – holiday vacations, report found a high percentage of phyexpensive gifts and compensation for sicians who craft Canadian practice publishing medical research on their guidelines are in a conflict of interest. pharmaceutical products. Nearly 80 per cent of doctors associAccording to University of Manitoba ated with the Canadian Cardiovascular professor and director of the Centre Society and Canadian Diabetes for Professional and Applied Ethics Association were forced to declare their Arthur Schafer, drug-makers’ finanties to pharmaceutical manufacturers. cial relationships to doctors influences Canadian doctors treatment choicare clearly in a posies, driving up tion to exploit their health care costs professional or offiand even leading cial capacity in some to the prescripway for their pertion of drugs sonal benefit, says which are inefSchafer. fective or even “Concerns about dangerous. ethics have spurred “The perks Canada’s biggest that pharmaregulator of physiceutical companies provide “Concerns about ethics have cians to announce new guidelines to physicians credownplay the taint ate a bond or spurred Canada’s biggest of Big Pharma’s re lat ionship,” regulator of physicians to influence,” says York says Schafer. University health “Doctors receive announce new guidelines to faculty professor financial bendown play the taint of Big Joel Lexchin. efits and presIn late March, tige from their Pharma’s influence.”
and safety regulations to protect the country’s estimated four million textile workers, who earn poverty-level wages in sweatshop conditions. For more information, visit <www. labourstart.org/go/ranaplaza>.
Harper’s election reforms an unprecedented attack on voter rights If you aren’t already outraged about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s shocking proposal to overhaul how federal elections are conducted, you should be. “The Conservative’s so-called Fair Election Act is an unprecedented
attack on Canadians’ fundamental democratic rights,” says BurnabyDouglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart. “The Prime Minister claims that illegal voting is the number one enemy of our democracy,” says Stewart. “Yet, there is no evidence this was the case in the last election – or, in fact, during any federal election in the past several decades.” Particularly troubling for many critics of the Act is how the proposed election reforms would make it harder for up to one million Canadians, or one in 15 voters, to even cast a ballot. Under the new Act, voter information cards mailed by Elections Canada
the Ontario College of Physicians and when the Physician Payments Sunshine Surgeons proposed a new ethics policy Act comes into effect,” says Lexchin. that banned doctors from accepting “Canada should follow suit.” most gifts or authorPart of President ing drug company Obama’s new mediresearch. However, for “Starting this care plan, known Lexchin, the College’s more commonly as efforts are pretty September in the U.S., Obamacare, the Act weak. the public will have the will allow any mem“Doctors can still ber of the public to take other benefits right to know exactly look up online which from drug companies, what drug companies’ companies are paying such as free meals and how much to which drug samples,” says relationships are with physicians for any Lexchin. “Nor does amount over $10. the College complete- physicians.” “If the U.S., with ly ban doctors from its huge drug comacting as consultants or speakers for panies, can let the public know about the industry.” payments to physicians, then it’s cerThat’s why health policy experts like tainly time for Canada to let the sunProfessor Lexchin are calling on the shine in too,” said Lexchin. federal and provincial governments to Still, for Lexchin and Shafer, getting enact legislation requiring full public greater transparency is just the begindisclosure of payments, gifts or other ning of cleaning up the relationship benefits to physicians by drug compabetween pharmaceutical corporations nies online. In late March, he and other and physicians. advocates launched openpharma.ca to “The best way to solve this problem promote their national call for action. is to sever the drug company-doctor “Starting this September in the relationship completely,” says Schafer. U.S., the public will have the right “Only then will patients know for to know exactly what drug compacertain doctors are working on their nies’ relationships are with physicians behalf and not Big Pharma’s.” NEIL M ONCKTON
could no longer be used as legitimate identification by citizens. As well, the process known as vouching that allows a neighbour or someone else who knows a voter to confirm their identity at a polling station would no longer be permitted. The two main concerns coming out of the 2011 election had more to do with unfair campaign practices that benefited a single party – the Harper Conservatives. Following an Elections Canada probe, it was revealed in March 2013 that a Conservative MP from Newfoundland and Labrador had taken illegal donations and over-
spent on his election bid. More than $46,000 was paid as a penalty by the MP who was then forced to resign his seat, once the issue came to light in the media. Last May, a judge determined that dirty tricks were used to misdirect voters on election day in at least seven ridings. Automated telephone calls – known as robocalls – targeted voters who had previously pledged their support for anyone but the Conservative candidate. Six out of the seven ridings were narrowly won by the Prime Minister’s party. “The Conservatives could have continued on page 6
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We have a duty to end violence against women “The struggle for gender equality is the single most important struggle on the planet.” Stephen Lewis
cy shelter to escape domestic violence. And studies show that homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace. Global human rights activist Knowing all this, we in the labour movement have a duty to act; to do arch 8, International everything we can to help create a Women’s Day, is a future where violence against women date I always comand girls is no longer the norm. memorate. That’s why HEU is supporting two Every year, IWD important projects that can help make gives me pause to a difference. think about how The first is an attempt to find out how far we have come and the very real often, and the degree to which, domesstruggles that are tic violence affects our still with us. workplaces – so we can In this, HEU’s bargain better support 70th anniversary to make our workplacyear, I celebrate our es safer for those who long-standing comexperience abuse. mitment – as B.C.’s Working with largest union of Western University, women workers – the Canadian Labour to making women’s Congress is conducting equality a reality. a nation-wide survey Over the past on this issue – the first many decades, our of its kind in Canada. union has put womWhether or not you Donisa Bernardo en’s rights at the have directly experiHEU Financial Secretary heart of our fight for enced violence at home, decent wages, better please take the time to working conditions, and economic juscomplete this anonymous survey at tice for our members. <fluidsurveys.com/s/DVatWork>. But like feminists and trade unionThrough a second project, we are ists here in Canada, and in other parts contributing to a partnership underof the world, I know that the justice taken by the B.C. Federation of Labour we seek cannot happen until women with the BC Lions and Ending Violence are safe: in their homes, in their workAssociation of BC. This partnership places, and in their communities. will support a program that brings The statistics alone, combined with men and boys into the fight to end the stories we hear almost daily on the violence against women and girls. It’s news, are horrific. called Be More Than a Bystander and In just one year in Canada – 427,000 it’s playing an important role in chalwomen over the age of 15 reported lenging the attitudes that perpetrate they had been sexually assaulted. Since violence and abuse. only about 10 per cent of all sexual Both of these projects are helping assaults are reported to the police, the turn awareness into action. Both proactual number is much higher. vide us with new tools to help make the On any given day in Canada, more world a safer place for women and girls. than 3,000 women (along with their Let’s use them. 2,500 children) are living in an emergen-
Protecting our public services takes a movement Does anyone know the impact of privatization policies on our public services better than HEU VICTOR ELKINS members? Most of us feel like we’ve seen it all. Support services like housekeeping and dietary, laundry and security led the way to a level of privatization in our health system that was unheard of before the Campbell Liberals came to power. And over the past decade virtually all new hospital and residential care infrastructure has been built by public private partnerships. In recent years, private owners and operators have encroached to the point where they are now the major players in seniors’ care, where they contract out services and flip contracts at will. So yes, we’ve been dealing with the privatization agenda for years. To our credit, HEU has continued to organize, re-organize, and support affected workers on the ground while fighting privatization policies provincially. But what we have to realize is we’re not alone. Our sisters and Health care is not the brothers in public sector unions only public service where across Canada have also been fighting the same problem. governments are getting out Privatization is now infecting almost every public service delivered of the business of caring for by municipal, provincial and federal their citizens’ basic needs. governments. Water and sewage systems. Schools. Public transportation such as railways, ferries, airports. Provincial and national parks. Hydro. And the list goes on. Health care is not the only public service where governments are getting out of the business of caring for their citizens’ basic needs. That’s why it’s so important for HEU to support our union partners in their struggles to save the other public services we rely on. Wherever governments choose to privatize and contract out a core public service our communities lose out. We lose jobs that support local economies. In the end, privatized services cost more and deliver less. Studies show P3s don’t save the tax payer anything. Their financing ends up costing us more in the long run. Governments tell us that privatization makes good economic sense. But we know it doesn’t. Privatization doesn’t fix anything. And it creates a lot of problems in the immediate, and in the long term. We can boost our immunity against privatization by actively working with community groups, coalitions, and others in the labour movement to oppose future projects and expose privatization’s failings. One of our first opportunities will be this fall’s municipal elections. Groups like the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation already have public services in their sights. Whatever community you live in, I urge you to connect with CUPE and BCTF members, and your local labour council, to begin mobilizing support for candidates who will support public services.
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introduced tighter rules making it harder for the kinds of election abuses witnessed in 2011,” says Stewart. “Instead, they want to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of legitimate voters – mostly seniors, students, low-income citizens and First Nations – to fix a non-existent problem. “Election turnout has trended downward for the past three decades,” says Stewart. “Making voting more difficult will only make matters worse.”
She shoots, she scores!
When Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital vice-president Dr. Danielle Martin testified before a U.S. Senate hearing studying health care systems in other countries, she probably didn’t expect her grilling by one hostile senator would go viral. On March 11, the family physician made an incisive and moral case in the American capital for why our public medicare system is far superior to the U.S.’s private health care model. Within a week, her testimony
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garnered over three-quarters of a million YouTube views. The debate over privateversus-public health care continues to rage in the States, as the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, rolls out. For the first time in their country’s history, under the Act, all Americans now have access to affordable health insurance no matter their circumstances. Experts estimate that more than 100 million Americans have benefited from Obamacare since it became law in 2010. But not everyone is happy
about these positive developments in American health care. In her own Danielle Martin is a family physician and a past words, here Chair of the Canadian Doctors for Medicare. is how Dr. Martin zinged but I know there are 45,000 Republican Senator Richard in America who die waiting Burr when he tried to take a because they don’t have cheap shot at Canadian public insurance at all.” medicare: Take that, senator. Senator Burr: “On average, To view Dr. Martin’s how many Canadian patients sterling defense of Canada’s on a waiting list die each health care, visit year, do you know?” <www.goo.gl/aVh5Qu>. Dr. Martin: “I don’t, sir,
B.C.’s first health care union: the early years HEU pioneered labour organizing – not just in B.C.’s health system – but also as a champion of public sector worker unionization across Canada. In spite of the Great Depression, World War II, and the lack of labour laws, HEU crusaders achieved significant improvements to working and caring conditions.
eventy years ago, King George VI was Canada’s Head of State. William Lyon Mackenzie King was our prime minister. And John Hart was B.C.’s premier. Medicare did not exist. The Royal Union Flag flew over federal buildings. And World War II was ending. While Canada deployed more than a million civilians into active duty, women were heavily relied upon to contribute to the war effort at home, working in jobs that were traditionally occupied by men, including manufacturing and trades. That left hospitals desperate for staff, and many women volunteered to train on the job as nurses’ aides. It was against this backdrop that HEU was founded. But the roots of the union go back more than a decade earlier.
THE DIRTY 30s During the Great Depression, Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) was reportedly North America’s biggest hospital. But health care delivery was primitive. Hospital infections were rampant. Working conditions were “sweatshop”. And hospital funding came from token patient fees for service and modest contributions from city council. Nurses’ aides worked 10-hour shifts with half a day off each week. Kitchen staff worked 1214 hours a day for $11 a week. Time off could be cancelled if the supervisor didn’t like them. There was no overtime or paid sick leave. Orderlies, however, earned $83.20 a month with one meal provided per shift. They were granted two consecutive days off every five weeks. From the beginning, there was clear gender discrimination against women in terms of wages, schedules and working conditions. And things got worse. Between 1932 and 1937, health care wages were rolled back by 30 per cent. All workers were vulnerable during the Depression because they could easily be replaced by others desperate for work. But things changed when VGH workers – frustrated by the substandard caring and working conditions – mobilized and organized.
These brave crusaders conducted secret meetings in hospital closets and whispered in hallways, under the radar of omnipresent supervisors. If caught, organizers were fired on the spot. But their efforts paid off. In 1936, VGH women formed the Hospital Workers’ Union, Local 4, while their male counterparts formed the Vancouver Civic Employees’ Union, Local 28 Hospital Branch. Activists took further risks by collecting members’ union dues of 25 cents a month at the workplace. Job action and strikes were illegal. In 1938, a seven-member union delegation met with their VGH employer to discuss wages. Their grassroots initiatives had already achieved meal allowances, a death benefit fund, and reimbursement for unfair payroll deductions.
THE WAR ERA The 1940s introduced groundbreaking employment laws. By 1941, the VGH women’s and men’s unions began holding joint meetings to endorse each other’s bargaining objectives. Although the employer rejected the unions’ wage proposals, an arbitrator awarded a monthly increase of $6 for men and $4 for women. For years, workers had complained about abusive employer treatment and theft. Activists launched a successful campaign, resulting in the installation of staff lockers and appointment of shop stewards in every department. Workers also negotiated “permanent status” after a six-month probationary period, and compulsory union membership. The B.C. Labour Act of 1943 legalized union affiliation and paved the way for expanded bargaining rights. Recognizing there’s more power as a united force, the gender-based VGH unions merged to form the Hospital Employees’ Federal Union, Local 180 in September 1944. As an “industrial union” – a model that crossed traditional craft and occupational lines – HEU was chartered by the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada (TLC). HEU was granted certification the following year to represent 390 of VGH’s 500 employees. Laundry worker turned paint wash-
er Alex Paterson became HEU’s first elected president, while Bill Black was hired part-time as the union’s business manager. His wife Mary Black was the first HEU secretary – performing all clerical duties from finances to operating the switchboard. The practice of hiring an external secretary-business manager to provide leadership follows the British model of trade unionism brought to B.C. by early organizers.
THE NIFTY 50s Within a decade, HEU grew from one VGH local to 19 locals across the province. And with the postwar boom, there were substantial improvements to social programs, federal grants for hospital construction and health care reform, and workers’ rights. In 1950, an HEU newsletter – which later morphed into the union’s flagship news magazine the Guardian – was published as a primary means to communicate with members. In his editorial, Bill Black wrote: “The contribution made by the parent body on behalf of hospital workers has been tremendous. We have been instrumental in raising salary standards. We have pioneered pension and superannuation schemes, accumulative sick leave, holiday allowances and other perquisites.” Bargaining in the 1950s saw Black travelling the province to meet with individual employers and negotiate separate compensation packages for men and women workers; the latter still earned significantly lower wages than men. Despite these obstacles, HEU was able to protect and improve contract provisions in the 1956 round of bargaining, and introduced a plan for employer-paid medical coverage financed by federal and/or provincial governments. That same year, HEU officially
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changed its name to the Hospital Employees’ Union, Local 180. In June 1958, HEU held its first biennial convention to cap off a decade that introduced the early classifications system (job descriptions with pay rates attached), equal pay for equal work (although the legislation was rarely enforced), and a Social Credit government whose mandate was to freeze health care workers’ wages. Although historic achievements occurred in the labour movement during these early decades, tumultuous years still lay ahead for HEU activists – with landmark campaigns for medicare, standardized wages and working conditions, pay equity, and a massive organizing drive. Primary source: The Heart of Health Care by Patricia G. Webb
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BRENDA WH ITEH ALL
OTHER EARLY HIGHLIGHTS • HEU lobbies government to provide health insurance to all citizens. • HEU bargains employer-paid medical coverage. • HEU negotiates 40-hour work week at VGH, Royal Columbian, Powell River and North Vancouver Hospital locals. • HEU increases wages by 400 per cent since the 1930s. • HEU convention delegates call to ban nuclear weapons and support anti-apartheid movement. • HEU business manager Bill Black elected first president of the B.C. Federation of Labour. •
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Seniors’ care: reaching th Chronic short-staffing and for-profit businesses are becoming the new normal in long-term care. Which begs the question: Is government abandoning its responsibility for vulnerable seniors and the people who care for them?
feel rushed and get frustrated. In return, they ‘act out’, then Something needs to change. And soon. If you’re one of the 20,000 HEU members who works in they are put on meds to calm them down and are known to long-term care, you know exactly what it takes to provide others as being ‘aggressive’, which isn’t always true.” Another participant wrote: “Residents lose their indepenquality care to fragile seniors. Every facility – public, private or non-profit – needs a dence because we are mostly in a rush. Resident agitation stable, experienced staff, with enough people on shift to do is being triggered by not being attended to when they need it. It also affects their personal choices and the job. freedom. Incontinence could be avoided and But more often than not, members say there could be less fall incidents.” they are working short – seriously short – “Residents feel Numerous research studies conducted in putting themselves and their residents at risk. rushed and get Canada, and elsewhere, show a clear link According to a recent project initiated by HEU in October, under the banner Time to frustrated. In return, between low staffing levels and poor health outcomes for residents including falls, presCare, health care assistants in all types of they ‘act out’, then sure sores, medication errors and weight loss. seniors’ care facilities report under-staffing is “There’s no way around it. Staffing is the their chief concern. they are put on single most important factor in providing With the rare exception, project particicare,” says HEU secretary-business manager pants from the long-term care sector – who meds to calm them Bonnie Pearson. “People look after people. If tracked and then submitted their daily work down.” you don’t have enough skilled staff on shift, experiences over a single rotation – described pressure cooker conditions where they are literally run off you cannot deliver the standard of care seniors deserve.” That’s not only harmful for residents – who rely on staff to their feet and residents are suffering the consequences. meet their basic and most intimate care needs – it’s devastatWithout enough staff, they report, care is compromised. As to what suffers most because of lack of time, one par- ing for health workers. “The stress! We are people, not machines,” declared one ticipant from a Richmond facility put it this way: “Residents
On the steps of the legislature: New Horizons’ local executive members Tanya Poulin (lower left) and Caroline Sloat (lower right), joined by members of the Provincial Executive, present North Island MLA Clare Trevena with a 5,783 signature petition demanding an end to contracting out.
Not even the snow stopped workers and community members from rallying support for laid-off New Horizons staff.
Members fight back against contracting out Recent mass staff layoffs – resulting from contracting out at two long-term care homes on Vancouver Island – have once again exposed how vulnerable seniors and workers are to profit-making businesses in residential care. In Campbell River, 120 HEU members at New Horizons Care will be out of a job by the end of April. At press time, it appeared that a number of the original staff would not be returning to work for reduced wages and benefits under the new subcontractor Care Corp. And the first ads for new staff had already surfaced on Craigslist. In Duncan, 264 members at Sunridge Place will be gone by June. Both facilities are publicly funded, but were recently purchased by Park Place Seniors Living, a for-profit company with a history of buying up longterm care homes and then contracting out services to a subcontractor. The mass layoffs have sparked a furor in both Island communities where
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workers, family members, and concerned citizens have blasted government’s refusal to step in and stop the ongoing large staff replacements that are disrupting the quality and continuity of care in for-profit seniors’ homes. On March 5, North Island MLA Clare Trevena presented a petition to the legislature with 5,783 signatures calling on government to intervene and stop the contracting out at New Horizons. “We will continue to use every means at our disposal to push this government – to shame this government – into doing the right thing,” says HEU secretary-business manager Bonnie Pearson. “As it stands now, these private companies are unrestricted in their drive to extract as much profit out of seniors’ care as they possibly can. ”
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GIVE US THE TIME TO CARE Here’s what health care assistants who participated in a recent project on short staffing had to say about what it means not to have enough time to do their jobs. “I put my body at risk every day because I’m cutting corners. There’s not enough staff to do the assignments.” Langley “The residents are the ones that always suffer because we don’t have enough time. They pay in person and with money. Years ago, it wasn’t this way.” Comox Valley “There’s no time to treat people like people… I used to be happy about the difference I made in peoples’ lives. Now my job just makes me sad.” Salmon Arm
member from the Kootenays. “There needs to be a staff-to-resident ratio established. Too much is expected at the expense of residents’ needs but also at the expense of health care assistants.” Pearson says government and its health authorities have lost touch with the realities involved in providing care. And she questions what it will take to move health care decision-makers from an attitude of indifference to one of responsible leadership. “The preoccupation with cost-cutting and ‘costcontainment’ has got to stop. We’re concerned that many facilities don’t have enough staff to provide the kind of care any one of us would expect for ourselves and our loved ones – and that’s unconscionable,” says Pearson.
PRIVATIZATION AND MASS STAFF TURNOVER In addition to the overall crisis in under-staffing, many health care workers in for-profit facilities have also been subjected to mass layoffs by a growing number of private owners/operators who appear bent on squeezing as much money as they can out of residential seniors’ care. Over the last decade, B.C.’s Liberal government has been divesting itself of responsibility for building and operating public, not-for-profit care homes. As a result, an increasing number of seniors’ facilities in the province are now owned and operated by profit-making enterprises. Health authorities then fund privately operated beds out of the public purse. Many of these businesses then contract out their care and support services to subcontractors, and some “flip” subcontractors by terminating a contract with one third-party provider and then hiring another. In either case, these companies opt to fire entire staff teams in an apparent effort to drive out union contracts and drive down workers’ wages. The situation on Vancouver Island is a case in point. Since 2002, 12 privately operated facilities have contracted out services and three of them have flipped contracts three or more times. “When you throw out an entire workforce, which has been meeting the care needs of a vulnerable population, both the continuity and quality of
care is ruptured,” says Pearson. “Seniors, especially those with dementia and other complex conditions cannot thrive when they lose their familiar, trusted care staff.” That’s why B.C.’s Ombudsperson Kim Carter zeroed in on the negative impact of large scale staff replacement on seniors living in residential care facilities, and their families, following her historic investigation into seniors’ care. Carter’s final report, issued in 2012, made 176 recommendations aimed at improving all areas of seniors’ care, the vast majority of which have yet to be addressed by the provincial government. Failure to do so has meant a combination of underfunding, low-staffing, and unfettered profitmaking continue to undermine working and caring conditions throughout B.C.’s long-term care sector.
THE WAY FORWARD • Reinvest in the construction and operation of public and not-for-profit residential care facilities/beds so that taxpayers’ dollars go back into the system instead of into the pockets of private, for-profit operators. • Where a publicly funded, for-profit facility is up for sale, the government responsible should acquire the facility at market value and convert it to a public, non-profit facility. • Employees should have their job security, seniority rights, and collective agreements fully protected in the process. • Declare a moratorium on reclassification of long-term care facilities to assisted living facilities, and end the substitution of assisted living for residential long-term care. • Standardize province-wide care hours by legislating of hours of direct care per resident per day that recognizes acuity and complexity. • Legislate staffing levels and staffing mix so that adequate numbers of workers providing the appropriate combination of care and support are on the job at any given time. • Stop contracting out and grant workers successor rights. P AT T Y G IB S O N & M AR G I B L AM E Y
“I am always at risk to any injury because of workload and not enough staff. My health is declining because of burnout.” Vancouver “In the past two weeks, I worked two overtime shifts, not because I need the money but because if I didn’t work, my co-workers would be working short. It takes a toll on my family and my health.” Ashcroft “We’re always rushed. Care aides are always under the gun with time restraints.” Victoria “When you leave work, there are always things left undone. Occasionally, you have those days that are so satisfying, but there are few and far between. We need the time to actually care for the whole person, not just the necessities.” Prince George “When working short staffed, it can create animosity among the group.” Sooke “Love my job. Would like more time for the residents.” Castlegar “The constant stress and frustration on an almost daily basis takes its toll physically and mentally.” Cranbrook “I’m burned out by the end of my shift and risk being hurt.” Duncan “I often go home feeling anxious and worried for my residents, sometimes depressed. I often feel physically exhausted, back ache, foot pain, headaches.” Lower Mainland “When residents are not toileted in a timely manner, they feel ignored and are put at risk. The result is lots of bladder and urinary tract infections.” Vancouver “Having enough supplies available is an ongoing problem. This week we’ve been short of soaker pads, wash cloths and pillow cases.” Surrey S P R I N G
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NOTEWORTHY NEWS ABOUT ISSUES AFFECTING WORKING PEOPLE HERE AND ABROAD
IKEA workers need your solidarity It’s been a year since nearly 350 unionized workers at IKEA’s Richmond store were locked out of their jobs by management. At issue is IKEA’s drive to create a two-tier wage structure. Studies show that paying new employees lower wages than those who were on staff prior to the switch is not in workers’ best interests. A two-tier system results in higher turnover among newer employees, a demoralized workforce, lower productivity, and it gives corporations an incentive to increase the number of part-timers. Over time, a two-tier system can permanently lower wages across an entire industry. “These workers have been on the picket line for 12 months now,” says B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair. “We must not forget that they are walking not just for themselves, but for good jobs for all of us.” The Richmond store is highly profitable, he says. In fact, this location – like the Coquitlam store and all IKEA outlets in the world – is directly owned by one of the top 100 wealthiest families on the planet. “I urge you not shop at either IKEA store, or online,” says Sinclair. “Please tell all your friends and family that shopping at IKEA must stop until this issue is resolved.”
Right-to-Work showing cracks in the wall
Not satisfied with just banning ebruary was a good strikes, Alberta’s Conservative govmonth for labour ernment decided last December to unions and the mempass legislation ditching binding arbibers they represent. tration as an option. In its place, they First, in Ottawa, said they’d enforce a four-year deal, the Supreme Court of with wage freezes in the first two Canada rejected a fedyears, followed by one per cent pay eral employee’s request to refuse to be hikes in each of 2016 and 2017. represented by their union. But in his judgment, Court of The plaintiff in this case effectively Queen’s Bench Justice Denny Thomas wanted to remove the union’s abilruled the ill-designed law had the ity to represent them in collective potential to cause long-term harm to bargaining, grievances, or any other labour relations in Alberta. labour relations. Moreover, he slammed the governThis ruling by Canada’s highest ment’s entire approach to bargaining, court upheld a core labour principle saying he doubted “whether those – once a majority of workers vote for negotiations were ever conducted in a union to represent them, that union good faith, or were merely camouflage becomes the exclusive bargaining for a differagent for all employent agenda.” ees in that group. The final Then, on Canada’s highest court has major vicValentine’s Day, the in labour movement upheld a core principle – once tory February witnessed another a majority of workers vote for labour victory in the courts came this – this time in Alberta. for union representation, the time, not in A barely two- union becomes the exclusive legal chammonth-old law that bargaining agent for all bers, but in gave the province the court complete authority to employees in that group. of public impose a contract on opinion. public sector union Ontario’s official opposition – the workers was put on hold by Alberta’s Progressive Conservative (PC) party top court. – introduced a set of policies in 2012 The 22,000 union members affectthat would result, if they formed goved by this rights-stripping law – social ernment, in radical reforms to existworkers, correctional officers, shering provincial labour laws. iffs and many other frontline workSpecifically, they wanted to bring ers – haven’t been allowed to strike in many U.S.-style restrictions on since 1977. Instead, they could resort labour’s power, including “right-toto binding arbitration as an option, work” legislation. should collective bargaining fail.
Right-to-work laws legally entrench the problem of what experts call “free riders.” These are workers who receive the benefit of collective bargaining through better wages and working conditions, but do not have to pay for them. Even more troubling is the impact that right-to-work laws have on the economic well-being of workers. Studies have found that all workers in states with right-to-work laws have lower wages and benefits. But in late February, PC Leader Tim Hudak’s union-killing ideas ground to a halt when he made a surprise announcement that his party was dropping their drive to make Ontario the first right-to-work province in Canada. An energized Ontario labour movement that was actively mobilizing against PC candidates, lukewarm support from corporate Ontario, and a public revolt within Hudak’s own party all contributed to the death of the Tory labour platform, according to media reports. However, for Unifor labour economist Jim Stanford, the biggest hurdle for the PC’s labour platform was the public. “The biggest problem for Mr. Hudak’s crusade was a deeper sentiment in Canadian public opinion regarding unions and the role they play in society,” says Stanford. “Many Canadians innately understand that if the only institutional voice speaking for working class priorities is silenced, then the whole social contract will become even more tattered in the years ahead.” NEIL M ONCKTON
Directive on contracting out compromises care
I VIHA is advising its “service providers” to contract out their workers to cut costs.
In April, the Good Samaritan Society fired more than 100 staff at the non-union Wexford Creek care centre in Nanaimo, citing a lack of funding from the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA). The workers will be terminated in September with an invitation to reapply for their jobs at lower wages. Sadly, this is not news. In B.C., mass firings are routine business at privately operated, but publicly subsidized, residential care facilities. So far this year, nearly 500 care and support staff at privately operated nursing homes have received pink slips on Vancouver Island alone. And it’s happened at more than a dozen care homes on Vancouver Island over the last decade. More newsworthy is the revelation that VIHA is advising its “service providers” to contract out their workers to cut costs, or as Good Samaritan put it, “to contract out our core business of caring for the elderly and disadvantaged.” While Good Sam called out VIHA on its directive, other care operators didn’t need to be told twice.
Park Place Seniors Living, the for-profit operator of more than a dozen care facilities in B.C. and Alberta, snapped up two more on Vancouver Island over the past eight months. They’ve laid off all HEU members at both sites and are contracting out their work. Two years ago, the B.C. Ombudsperson called for action to address the impact of these “large-scale staff replacements” on the quality of care. Yet today, VIHA is openly encouraging large-scale staff replacement as a cost-cutting measure. That means care facilities on Vancouver Island will be in a state of constant chaos for the foreseeable future. VIHA’s insistence that the quality of care will not suffer betrays a certain foolish arrogance. Residents and their families don’t believe it. Neither do health care workers. And a recent poll commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association shows 59 per cent of Canadians in key ridings would switch party support in an election on the issue of seniors’ care. Politicians in B.C. should take notice. M IKE OLD • HEU COMMUN ICATION S DIRECTOR
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Violence. Abuse. Assault. NOT part of your job
ealth care is the most dangerous place to work in B.C. While it’s long been understood that health care workers are at risk for many different types of injuries, violence and abuse are increasingly in the spotlight. Unfortunately, many health care workers have come to expect that being punched, kicked, assaulted and threatened comes with the work they do. But it’s not. No worker should see aggression, violence and assault as part of the hazards of the workplace. The groundbreaking but now defunct Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare in BC – axed by the BC Liberals in 2010 – was clear about this. In the introduction of its 2008 paper, Elements of a “Best Practice” Violence
Prevention Program, OHSAH stated that violence should not be seen as “just part of the job”. Although violence against health care workers has received increasing attention in the media, and violent incidents are being covered more often, many in the public don’t realize that care aides and other health care assistants in particular bear the brunt of those attacks. While reports focused on acute care, long-term care staff are increasingly subjected to violent acts as residents, and sometimes family members, take out their frustrations on the nearest worker who is most often a care aide. WorkSafeBC statistics confirm this. Claims from care aides and orderlies show that 14 per cent come from violent incidents, the highest in the sector. The overall average for health care workers is 11 per cent. HEU secretary-business manager
B.C. teachers win court victory In the latest round of a 12-year battle with the BC Liberals over contract infringements, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation just scored a major victory when the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that government legislation – impacting class size and composition – was unconstitutional, and awarded the BCTF two million dollars in damages. The original 2002 legislation, Bill 28, had already been deemed unconstitutional by Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin in 2011. But rather than repealing it, the Liberal government continued to enact the illegal legislation under a new name Bill 22, which Griffin
also found unconstitutional in her January 27, 2014 ruling. The restrictive legislation, Bill 22, removed existing contract provisions on special needs’ education and class-size limits, and prevented the BCTF from negotiating them at future bargaining tables. In protest, the BCTF held a three-day strike in March 2012, with widespread public and labour support. In her recent ruling, Justice Griffin accused the Christy Clark government of not bargaining in good faith, and ordered the reinstatement of contract language on class composition and size. The BC Liberals are appealing the Court’s decision.
Bonnie Pearson says that the numbers reflect what members working in hospitals and residential care facilities tell the union. “Because care aides provide the bulk of personal care to residents, and increasingly in hospitals, they are easy targets when Aggression and violence have become key concerns in people are anxious, both acute and residential care. frustrated, conand the vigilance of HEU occupational fused and upset.” health and safety stewards, more workLike every hazard, there are precauers are reporting violent incidents and tions and prevention that health care filing claims when they are hurt. employers can take to keep workers For example, in 2012, there were safe from violence and aggressive acts. 578 incidents of violence reported In B.C., it’s the law. The developand 251 WCB claims filed in the ment and implementation of a vioFraser Health Authority. In 2013, lence prevention program in health reported incidents fell slightly to 525 care workplaces is mandated under but claims rose to 277. the Workers Compensation Act and Because patient-to-staff aggression the Occupational Health and Safety and violence have been concerns in Regulation, as well as in collective acute and residential care for years, agreements. WorkSafeBC now considers these to Health authorities are now required be “distinguishing characteristics” to ensure that health care workers get when it comes to health care injuries. the violence prevention education and Pearson says that this is an importraining they need. Education and tant recognition, but it won’t stop the training modules have been developed carnage. so that health care workers can deter“Part of the solution to reducing mine and access the modules they need. injuries, and acts of force and violence, But HEU members know that it is to have enough staff on shift to do takes more than a violence preventhe work properly and safely,” she says. tion program to address on-the-job “Prevention and awareness initiatives aggression and violence. alone won’t turn the tide on patient or Workers need to document and resident violence and injuries to our report incidents, and they need to file members unless employers address the grievances if unsafe working condineed for increased staffing levels. tions remain unsolved. “The cost to our members’ health, to If members are injured, they also health care budgets and to our ability need to file claims with WorkSafeBC . to deliver quality care is far too high.” Due to awareness campaigns, mandatory violence prevention programs, M ARG I BLAM EY
We all have a stake in a sustainable, low carbon future
T Reckless disregard for our climate is simply madness.
The science is clear: climate change is real and its effects are growing. In B.C., the evidence is already all around us. On Vancouver Island, 10 million scallops died recently, likely due to ocean acidification. In the Interior, the mountain pine beetle epidemic has devastated our forests thanks to years of warmer winters. Wildfires are increasing in frequency and severity, with the Insurance Bureau of Canada predicting 50 per cent more annually by 2050. Salmon are dying because of warmer water when they return to spawn. Meanwhile, the proposed Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines and tankers, along with a rapidly expanded fracking and LNG industry, would increase greenhouse gas emissions eightfold, from 62 million tonnes reported by B.C. in 2011 to 459 million tonnes per year. This reckless disregard for our climate is simply madness. We can continue to transform B.C. into a petro state and face ever more severe disruptions to our lifestyle. Or, we can act now
to maintain healthy ecosystems and communities and the jobs that depend on them. At stake is nothing less than the health and well-being of B.C. families, our economy, jobs and food security. First, we must stop carbon-intensive projects from proceeding. By saying “no” to the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines and tankers – and placing an immediate moratorium on any new fracking in B.C. – we can say “yes” to wild salmon, clean drinking water and a safe climate. Second, we can shift B.C. to a responsible, sustainable, low carbon future through energy conservation, by shifting to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and tidal power, and by building a green economy that creates sustainable jobs and supports a transition for workers away from the fossil fuel industry. For more information on climate change, pipelines and what you can do to build a healthy future for our children and grandchildren, visit <www.sierraclub.bc.ca>. B O B PEART • EXECUTIV E DIRECTOR, SIERRA CLUB BC S P R I N G
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HEU calls for federal leadership to protect health care Why did hundreds of health care workers and concerned citizens take to the streets at HEU-led rallies in six communities on March 31? That day, B.C. protesters joined with tens of thousands of other Canadians at rallies in nearly 50 communities, or online, with one goal in mind. They were part of a national day of action to show their opposition to the Harper government’s decision to cancel the national Health Accord. Since 2000, this landmark federal-provincial-territorial health agreement promoted national standards and ensured that billions of fed-
eral dollars were invested in public medicare. Now, with it gone, there will be $36 billion less for health care flowing from Ottawa to the provinces and territories over the next decade. To put that number in context, when medicare was created in the 1960s, Ottawa covered 50 per cent of the cost. As of 2013, the federal share of health dollars was 20 per cent. Going forward, that percentage of medicare financing by Ottawa will shrink even further. Leading up to the Health Accord’s expiry, B.C. politicians representing the provincial and federal governments offered up little or no
opposition to the gutting of health care funding. “B.C.’s Minister of Health Terry Lake and Premier Christy Clark have quietly accepted the death of the agreement,” says HEU secretaryRallies held at the offices of six federal business manager Conservative MPs on March 31 opposed Bonnie Pearson. billion of dollars in cuts to federal health And, she says, care transfers. our province’s 21 Conservative MPs previously earmarked for mounted a defense of their B.C. is now shifting to other party’s massive cuts that is provinces. downright baffling. “Under the new funding Instead of cutting transformula, provinces with older fers to our province, our populations are treated the MPs claim Ottawa is making same as those with younger a major new investment in ones, despite the fact health health care. What they fail care costs rise as people to mention is that funding age,” says Pearson. “The
Doctors’ salaries are the second leading cause of rising health care costs. But we can improve care and control costs by seeking alternative funding models.
FEE-FOR-SERVICE MUST GO
octors like myself “As it stands now in the feeare paid well in for-service climate, setting up British Columbia, a practice and being tied to but we are paid the clock is an onerous and by an antiquated very unattractive option for compensation most of us new family phymodel called feesicians,” one doctor said. “I for-service, which basically reducnever wish to put up a sign es medical visits to a series of on my clinic door saying ‘one billable scenarios. complaint per visit, please.’ In family practice, this is not Fee-for-service must go.” cost-effective and often leads to The doctors issued a com“turnstile medicine” because we pelling call for choice to set can only bill the government for up practices that would allow one ailment at a time. them to provide more comThe more patient visits we see, plex and comprehensive care, the more money we make. take more time with patients The fee-for-service model is in need, and minimize frusexpensive because it incentivtration associated with billizes illness care rather than preing. vention. It is also expensive for The more patient visits we see, But unlike other provpatients, who bear the burden of the more money we make. inces and countries moving having to come back again and towards “medical homes” – a again for various issues. The fee-for-service model style of primary care that is But there are better options. collaborative, interdisciplinA 2012 research study published is expensive because it ary and alternately funded – in the medical journal Canadian incentivizes illness care rather in B.C., fee-for-service remuFamily Physician, heard from 133 neration encourages a walkrecently graduated family doctors than prevention. in style of practice. in B.C. Ninety-three of them (71 “Right now, it pays to see as per cent) preferred progressive many people as possible regardless of the quality of models of payment as opposed to the one-problemcare given. It literally pays to practice poor medicine,” per-visit style of practice that we buy in fee-forsaid one doctor. service.
G U A R D I A N • S P R I N G
result is B.C. is the country’s biggest loser under the new funding scheme, while provinces like Alberta are seeing major increases.” With senior levels of government either silent on, or actively undermining, medicare, Pearson believes grassroots action is needed to positively and publicly shift the debate. “Leadership must come from all those who want a strong public and accessible medicare system in the future,” says Pearson. “It’s certainly not coming from government. “And even though funding reductions began on April 1, history shows we can reverse that,” says Pearson. “A federal election will be held in
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And in a focus group conducted by the University of British Columbia family practice residents in 2012, patients spoke up. “Sometimes they’ll just shove me in the room,” said one. “If I’ve got an earache and want to follow up on tests, I’ve got to make another appointment.” Another said: “If you have a large variety of problems – and I’m on disability, both physical and mental – you are toast. It’s almost like you’re too difficult a patient, too demanding.” Over the last 10 years, Ontario gave all GPs incentives to transition from fee-for-service to alternate funding models, most of which were a blend of fee-for-service and an annual fee for looking after a patient based on the patient’s demographic. It was one of the largest and most expensive transformations in how primary care is delivered and funded. Although imperfect, it had positive effects. It significantly increased medical student enrollment in family practice residencies and reduced Ontario’s family doctor shortage. Research has shown how this change could have been more cost-effective and equitable, which gives us a golden opportunity to learn from this example and implement more effective reforms. We need to give doctors the space to think and deliver the right service to the right patient, including education and prevention. In recent years, insufficient growth in the B.C. budget has been outpaced by population growth and inflation. We now have less money on the table to work with towards innovation that will pay off in the longer term. This lack of forward thinking reinforces the increasingly inadequate fee-for-service model, and stifles the development of innovative models that will help us better care for patients with an increasing burden of chronic disease. In short, you don’t need to pay us more, but by paying us flexibly and allowing room for innovation, you may see 93 more family doctors ready to open a practice in B.C. not too far down the road. Dr. Vanessa Brcic is a family physician, clinician scholar in the Department of Family Practice at UBC, and research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
2015, so we have an opportunity to mobilize support for health care at the ballot box and change the course of the cuts. “The March 31 rallies were just the beginning.”
Nanaimo dramatically boosts local meeting attendance Here’s how they did it. After years of struggling to achieve quorum, and usually failing, Nanaimo local members decided it was time to try something completely different. Now they hold an all-day meeting where members drop in to discuss issues or respond to agenda items that have been posted seven days in advance.
The idea was given the then the three table officers go-ahead last spring and hold an open meeting until 4pm. launched last summer. Since then, member attendance at “Members drop in as they Nanaimo’s local meetings can, ask questions and talk have shot up to between about their issues. If we 40 and 50 people. In April, have business to pass, we they reached an all-time let members know to come high of 90. back at a certain time to pass motion,” says According to Augustine. local chair Tracey Augustine, the “There’s so much feedback received more communication from members has and I’m seeing membeen overwhelmbers I’ve never even ingly positive. met before.” “Basically people Augustine says the are asking why results are astoundAugustine we didn’t do this ing. Seventeen people sooner,” she says. signed up in January to The way it works is become shop stewards. The the executive holds their local is able to bring more 30-minute meeting first issues to labour-managething in the morning and ment meetings, resolve them
sooner, and reduce grievances. “We haven’t worked out all the kinks yet, it’s a work in progress,” she says. “But members are happy. And so much more involved.”
VIHA’s new model failing care aides The Vancouver Island Health Authority’s new Care Delivery Model Redesign (CDMR) has some serious implementation problems according to HEU care aides (also known as Health Care Assistants) at Nanaimo Regional General hospital. While care aides have been working in acute settings for some time, the new model increased the number of health care assistants at the
Nanaimo facility and will soon be expanded to Royal Jubilee and Victoria General. “Increasing the utilization of care aides to relieve staffing pressures in acute care settings is a good thing,” says HEU secretary-business manager Bonnie Pearson. “They’ve got the experience, education and training. But we’re concerned that care aides are not receiving the orientation and support they need for these new roles.” Nanaimo care aides also report that LPNs, RNs and physicians are not adequately informed about care aides’ skills and responsibilities. And there is little or no support for “team building” from the hospital or VIHA. Failure to oversee, evaluate continued on page 14
AFTER THE SHIFT
DANGERS OF NIGHT SHIFTS FOR WOMEN • Exposure to light at night disrupts the biological clock that regulates the sleepwake cycle (circadian rhythms). • At night, our bodies produce the cancerfighting hormone melatonin. Since melatonin levels drop in the presence of light, long-term exposure to artificial lighting can suppress melatonin production. • Women shift-workers exposed to artificial light during night-time hours, experience a higher incidence of breast cancer than other women. • Approximately 1.7 million women in Canada are exposed to this risk. • Studies show the effects of night-shift work on breast cancer risk are greatest for women who work rotating hours that include the overnight (as opposed to evening) shift and for women working 12-hour shifts that frequently switch between day and night work, compared to shorter shifts. • In 2007, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified shift work with circadian (daily rhythm) disruption as a “probable carcinogen.” • In Denmark, 37 women who got breast cancer after working night shifts were compensated following the IARC decision.
HEU member RITA ROSSI is helping researchers probe the link between night shift work and an increased risk for breast cancer.
SEARCHING FOR SOLUTIONS
hen researchers from a Canadian Cancer Societysponsored project issued a call for people to participate in a study on the relationship between breast cancer and shift work, HEU member Rita Rossi, a long-time care aide at Queen’s Park Care Centre in New Westminster, was happy to step up. “Research shows breast cancer risk is higher for night shift workers. I’ve seen a number of women with cancer and I’m rooting for a higher survival rate. I’m fighting for the next generation,” says Rita. “I believe 100 per cent in the study. We have to look at ways to reduce breast cancer and we have to find ways to make health care jobs healthier for care providers.” This ongoing study at UBC’s Cancer Prevention Centre is examining whether improved sleep habits can reduce the risk of breast cancer in women who work night shifts. Researchers hope to provide more insight into cancer risk and show how workplaces can enact risk-reducing preventative measures. “In some unions, full-time members only work two night shifts in a row,” says Rita. “This issue particularly impacts HEU’s many thousands of care aides who are at a higher risk because at least half of them work six nights in a row.” Rita’s current work schedule in general rehab con-
sists of five-week rotations (two weeks of days, six days of nights, two weeks of days). “It is demanding and stressful work,” says Rita. “And we have to keep our cool, so our stress levels go up. On night shifts, our stress hormones skyrocket and our circadian rhythms are disrupted. Night-shift workers all share the same stories – lower energy levels, mental fog, exhaustion, and weight-gain from eating when you shouldn’t. “The high cost of day care is a big problem. The younger moms are exhausted. They rob their health to save money. If our wages were higher, the cost of day care wouldn’t be such a compelling reason to work night shifts.” In the study, participants complete two assessments and a sleep help program. They keep a sleep diary and wear a wristwatch-like activity-sleep device which monitors sleep quality and physical activity by measuring movement and sensing light. “I had a mammogram and an ultrasound,” says Rita. “There were online questionnaires, telephone interviews and samples of blood and saliva. I logged my sleep weekly and became more aware of my interrupted sleep patterns. The program helped me achieve better sleep and higher energy levels.” Participants for UBC’s study are still needed. Call 604-822-1315 or email <firstname.lastname@example.org>. S P R I N G
G U A R D I A N
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continued from page 13
APRIL MAY JUNE
Clerical Team Appreciation Day
May Day/International Workers’ Day
National Nursing Week
International Day Against Homophobia
Provincial Executive meeting
Interior Regional meeting
Vancouver Island Regional meeting
World Environment Day
Vancouver Coastal Regional meeting
North Regional meeting
Fraser Regional meeting
National Aboriginal Day PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT NUMBER 40007486
HEU is also soliciting feedback from members at Royal Jubilee and Victoria General.
Union urges FHA to engage front-line staff In a recent submission to the Fraser Health Authority’s strategic review, HEU highlighted the serious breach in employer/employee communication that has been caused by the contracting out of key support services including security, laundry and housekeeping. The review was ordered by the health minister last fall in response to ongoing complaints from the public about ER overcrowding, hallway medicine, high hospital infection rates and topheavy management. And the union criticized
the FHA’s inability to engage all front-line health care workers in meaningful discussion to improve health care services and delivery. Housekeeping is a case in point. Currently FHA subcontracts three separate companies to clean regional hospitals. But despite the critical role that housekeeping plays in preventing the spread of antibiotic resistant organisms, the health authority has no ability to directly engage this workforce. Hospital cleanliness is now widely recognized as key to an effective infection control program, but the FHA ability to make improvements remains hampered by its commercial contracts with Aramark, Sodexo and
Marquise/Compass. The contracts drastically restrict the health authority’s ability to implement changes that would improve hospital cleanliness because the FHA no longer has direct control over housekeeping staff. HEU also points out the increasing bloat of excluded, management positions. The number of non-union employees in the FHA increased by more than 20 per cent between 2007/2009 and 2012/2013. The payroll for this group grew by more than 45 per cent over the same period. The union – and the public – question how health care services are improved by the expansion of consultants, managers and other excluded staff when what is
needed are more front-line care and support workers. Overshadowing the health authority’s review are decisions and policy directives made by the provincial government. The ongoing costs associated with the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre (the country’s first public-private partnership hospital) and the inefficiency and confusion created by the Lower Mainland Consolidation project continue to impact the FHA’s budget and planning. In summary, HEU says that if this strategic review is to produce more than stop-gap measures, the provincial government will need to reconsider its own policies concerning health care delivery.
Stories of struggle and triumph “History is not confined to the names on streets, buildings and memorials…The great wealth of our country is extracted, refined and built by working people.”
to vote until 1949. Early on, it documents the exploitation of children who worked in the coal pits and other dangerous environments. They made one-third of what an adult made, and if they were o begins a powerful tribute to the generations of workinjured, they faced a lifetime of poverty. ing men and women who built the economic and And of course, no labour history would be complete without social foundations of British Columbia. chronicling some of our earliest organizing battles and strikes From the coal mines, railways and factories to our to secure fair wages and safer working conditions. These are the schools, transportation systems and hospitals, these stories stories of those who stood up to the greedy and the powerful, bring to life many of the people and events that have shaped the the government of the day and its police force, to demand and history of our province. eventually win basic proBeginning in the midtections for themselves and 1700s and spanning three their families. centuries, this three-part Without their blood, documentary weaves sweat and tremendous acts together 30 short vignettes of courage, it’s hard to conthat include both the infaceive how else some of the mous and the little-known worst working conditions episodes of B.C.’s labour imaginable could ever have past. been improved. Unlike many histories The series also documents focusing on labour and the struggles of the thouindustrialization, this one sands of unemployed workincludes the often invisible, ers in the 1930s, who fought but significant influence of their way out of the subhuFirst Nations peoples and man conditions of Canada’s the contributions of several federal work relief camps. immigrant communities Working People: A History of Labour in British Columbia is Captured here are such in the creation of modern the result of a partnership between the B.C. Labour Heritage infamous events as the On Centre and the Knowledge Network. British Columbia. To Ottawa Trek of 1935 and These stories remind us of Vancouver’s Bloody Sunday, the critical role B.C.’s First Nations played in B.C.’s emerging three years later – where people who occupied the main post economy – from their early trade relationships with European office were brutally attacked by armed police. Public response settlers to their work in the mines, forests, fisheries, canneries was swift. The following day, an estimated 15,000 outraged and shipyards. Vancouverites from all walks of life filled Oppenheimer Park to In 1849, for example, it was First Nations people who iniprotest police violence. tially discovered and mined coal on Vancouver Island – a The final part of the series focuses on some of the key events little-known, but major event in the founding of one of B.C.’s that marked the B.C.’s post-war period including the tragic earliest industries. And by the latter part of the 1880s, it was collapse of the Second Narrows Bridge (now the Ironworkers First Nations men and women who made up the majority of Memorial Bridge) and the issues that led up to an historic the workforce in B.C. labour and community fightback – Operation Solidarity. This working people’s history also covers the harsh condiProduced by Landmark Entertainment, Working People: A History tions and the racism that confronted Chinese workers – the of Labour in British Columbia began airing on March 20 and is availhead tax, the race riots, and the refusal to grant them the right able for viewing at <www.knowledge.ca>.
and remedy problems with the new care model is creating tension and frustration within the care team, they say, and in some cases, has created a toxic working environment. “VIHA needs to take responsibility for the implementation of their new staffing model,” says Pearson. “They can’t rely on information posters and online instruction modules to build effective, collaborative teams. “The model is not without controversy, but when care aides and nurses on the team don’t receive proper orientation, and they don’t understand each other’s roles and responsibilities, any effort to introduce a new model will be undermined.” In addition to meeting with care aides at NRGH,
PATTY G IBSON
G U A R D I A N • S P R I N G
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EQUITY MATTERS Retirements
In January, Regina (Gina) Block (Kiwanis Village Lodge) retired after almost 36 years as an HEU LTC attendant/ nursing assistant in Nanaimo. She’ll particuBLOCK larly miss the residents, many of whom have become friends. Among her colleagues, Gina is known as a compassionate caregiver and wonderful co-worker. As a retiree, she will be spending a month in Mexico. She enjoys travel, and in the past, has been to Cuba, Mexico and Las Vegas. She also looks forward to training her new puppy, reading more books and enjoying life. Staff and residents will definitely miss Gina. Former HEU Provincial Executive member Julia Amendt (Surrey) retired from her admitting clerk position in September 2013. Julia was a long-time activist with the Surrey local. Julia served nine terms on the HEU’s Provincial Executive between the years 1982 and 2004. She also served six terms on the union’s bargaining committee. Julia recently returned from a trip to Hawaii and looks forward to more travel during her retirement years. Co-workers wish her the best and safe travels. Maria Martinez (Beckley Farm Lodge) retired on February 28, 2014. Though she began her work in housekeeping 32 years ago, for the last 18 years, she has worked as an HEU member in the laundry. Maria is proud to have lived, contributed and MARTINEZ raised her family all within Victoria’s community of James Bay. Maria says she will keenly miss all her sisters and brothers at Beckley Farm Lodge. She has enjoyed her work at the home and says, “the Lodge has been a part of me forever.” Everyone at the Lodge will miss her too. Maria’s retirement plans include a trip “home” to Spain to visit her mother who celebrates her 90th birthday in June.
Sadly, HEU member Antepaz (Paz) Catapang Kogler (Chilliwack) passed away at the age of 49 on December 21, 2013. A care aide at Bradley Centre since May 2006, she battled KOGLER cancer long and hard, yet stoically continued working through her illness. She is remembered as a gentle, quiet woman with the most amazing smile. And her co-workers recall that working with her was a pleasure. Paz will be truly missed and lovingly remembered by her family and friends, her HEU sisters and brothers, and the many people at her workplace whose lives she touched. At the age of 60, Mary Anne Elizabeth (Mae) Fedora (Eagle Ridge) passed away peacefully in her sleep on December 29, 2013. Mae worked for eight years as a porter as well as a care aide in acute care and LTC. She is remembered as a hard worker FEDORA with a positive attitude and a great sense of humour. Mae was an energetic and resilient woman who, prior to being an HEU member, worked at many jobs, including working in a mine. She and her sister had been personally renovating their home just prior to her death. Mae had many plans for the future. She is mourned by her family who were blessed with her unconditional love and immense emotional strength. Mae will also be deeply missed by her friends, co-workers and residents. Taken far too soon, 32-year-old Alexander (Alex) Thomas Krnasty (Kelowna) unexpectedly passed away in his sleep on February 8. An HEU member since 2009, he worked as a food service worker (FSW) KRNASTY at Vernon Jubilee Hospital until April 2013, and then moved to Kelowna where he worked as a FSW at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH). In January 2014, he became a clerk in support services. A proud
1.800.663.5813 or 604.438.5000 Lower Mainland Ask for Equity Officer Sharryn Modder
HEU member, Alex served on HEU’s Pink Triangle Standing Committee and CUPE National’s Pink Triangle Committee. Alex had an infectious smile and was a sweet and gentle soul. He is remembered as creative and giving, full of life, love and determination. His passions included animals, creating music, being outdoors and spending time with his friends and family. Alex’s loss is deeply mourned by his family, his union brothers and sisters, and many people in Kelowna and Vernon whose lives he touched.
ETHNIC DIVERSITY One union, many colours! Working across our differences! To participate, please call and leave us your name!
FIRST NATIONS First Nations members would like to hear from you! Please call if you would like to help educate our union sisters and brothers on issues that affect First Nations People.
Congratulations Although she will be greatly missed at HEU’s Provincial Office, everyone wishes assistant secretary-business manager Jacquie de Aguayo all the best in her new appointment as vicechair at the BC Labour Relations Board. Jacquie’s ability to make the DE AGUAYO most complicated legal issues understandable and even exciting, along with her great sense of humour, will long be remembered by her HEU co-workers and union members. Jacquie joined HEU’s staff in 2010 as the union’s senior legal counsel, a responsibility she maintained when she became assistant secretary-business manager in 2011. Before coming to HEU, she was legal counsel at the Public Service Alliance of Canada in Ottawa. Good luck, Jacquie!
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PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES If you are on WCB, LTD, or if invisibly or visibly disabled in the workplace, let us know how the union can better meet your needs.
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“In humble dedication to all those who toil to live.” EDI TO R
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DESI GN C ONS U LT A T I ON
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Mitchell Press The Guardian is published on behalf of the Provincial Executive of the Hospital Employees’ Union, under the direction of the following editorial committee: Victor Elkins, Bonnie Pearson, Donisa Bernardo, Ken Robinson, Carolyn Unsworth, Ian Maslin, Kelly Knox
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SWP IRNI TN EG R •• GG UU AA RR DD I I AA NN 22 00 01 54
SPRING 2014 • VOLUME 32 NUMBER 1 • THE VOICE OF THE HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES’ UNION
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SEVEN DECADES OF CARING
In 1944, hospital workers organized B.C.’s first united health care union. Those early struggles helped define today’s HEU.