B.C. health science workers accept 'net-zero' deal

Only half the members vote 'yes'

The British Columbia Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) has accepted a two-year collective agreement from the Health Employers Association of B.C. But, only 57 per cent of members voted in favour of the terms that were originally reached in late December 2010.

The agreement was negotiated under a net-zero mandate policy imposed by the provincial government and, as a result, there will be no wage adjustment and members have lost the accrual of an extra day of vacation by one year.

The Health Sciences Assn. of British Columbia (HSABC) is the largest union in the HSPBA and recommended to its members that they accept the deal. It was also a leader in the negotiations of the terms of the agreement.

As a result, the smaller unions were overshadowed by larger unions, like HSABC, that have more votes. In fact, all CUPE groups voted against the agreement: CUPE Local 1978, which represents workers with Vancouver Island Health Authority, voted 97 per cent against the agreement; CUPE Local 4816, representing members with Fraser Health Authority, voted 100 per cent against; and, CUPE Local 15, representing members with Vancouver Coastal Health, voted 95 per cent to reject.

HSABC acknowledges that the terms may not make everyone happy, but insists that members need to remember that they were reached under less-than-ideal circumstances.

“There is no question that the frustration felt by the bargaining committee forced to deal with a government imposed ‘net-zero’ mandate was also felt by health science professionals who voted on the tentative agreement,” said HSABC President Reid Johnson in a press release earlier today.

HSPBA emphasizes that it was able to bargain an extra $85 a year in vision care, $900 a year for psychologist costs and upwards of $350 a year for contraceptive coverage. There is also an adjustment to the special leave provisions that sees the number of hours available reduced from 180 hours to 144 hours. But, HSABC points out that access to these hours is more obtainable because the new policy permits time off to provide care to ill or injured family members.

More than 17,000 B.C. health science professionals will be impacted by the HSPBA collective agreement. These professionals are members of the Health Sciences Assn. of B.C., the British Columbia Government and Services Employees’ Union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Professional Employees Assn., the Hospital Employees Union and the B.C. Nurses Union.

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