Member update on health care bargaining

Member update on health care bargaining

Member update on health care bargaining

 

November 28, 2017

The Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions, NSHA and IWK have completed three days of conciliation and plan to meet again in January for another five days. The last three days provided good discussion and some important progress towards a new collective agreement. However, a lot of work remains.

The parties have held 27 bargaining dates in total now, as they work to conclude a very complex set of negotiations that require bringing together collective agreements from all four unions (CUPE, NSGEU, Unifor and NSNU) in the acute care and community care sectors. This was made necessary when the provincial Liberal government created a single provincial health authority.

Despite the progress, a number of very significant items remain outstanding including job posting, job security, sick leave, group benefits, retiree benefits, vacation scheduling, leaves, overtime, hours of work and more. This remains a long and challenging process but the Council of Health Care Unions is working well together to make sure progress continues, on your behalf.

The task was made much more difficult when the provincial Liberal government enacted legislation freezing the retirement allowance for members an imposing wage restraint including two years of zero per cent increases.

In the meantime, the Council of Health Care Unions continues to work toward completing an essential services agreement with the IWK and NSHA. This agreement is being negotiated for the first time and was required by another Liberal government piece of legislation. The legislation requires a high number of people to remain at work in the event of a strike, but leaves it to the parties to determine the exact numbers.

The essential services agreement covers all 6,500 health care bargaining unit members across the province, making it a very complex task. The Liberal legislation prohibits the health care unions from conducting a strike until an essential services agreement is reached. This has limited the Council’s leverage at the bargaining table, as it attempts to negotiate new collective agreements. Once the essential services negotiations are complete, in the coming months, the Council expects to make more progress in bargaining new collective agreements.

The employers’ essential services negotiators walked away from the table in the summer and have refused to come back. The Council expects to have an essential services plan completed before the end of the year. We believe the employers will return to the table to review the completed plan.

Health Care Update Nov 28 2017 pdf

Health Care Update Nov 28 2017 word doc

 

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PTSD Consultation

Amending the Workers’ Compensation Act to provide the benefit of presumption for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

We are grateful for the valuable and sometimes heartbreaking work of our frontline and emergency response workers, and we recognize it can take its toll. That’s why we are changing the Workers’ Compensation Act — to ensure these workers get the care they need when they need it.

Thank you for taking the time to meet with, speak to, or write in to government regarding the proposed changes to the Workers’ Compensation ActYour input has shaped the new legislative amendments being introduced in the House of Assembly.

Occupational stress due to traumatic events, including PTSD, has always been covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act for all clients of the Workers Compensation Board (WCB), and will continue to be.

Government and the WCB will spend the next year focusing on regulatory development to address some of the challenges raised during consultation. We will work with stakeholders as the details of the regulations unfold.

What We-Heard-report.pdf

 

Update on Collective Bargaining for members

After 22 days of negotiations, multiple pieces of Liberal legislation attacking workers rights, and Employers who are attempting to take away key benefits from healthcare workers at the bargaining table, talks have finally broken down between the Nova Scotia Council of Healthcare Unions, the NSHA and IWK.

As a result the NSHA and IWK have filed for the help of a conciliator from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

When a union and an employer reach an impasse in bargaining, one or both parties can apply to the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education to have a conciliator assist in resolving the stalemate. Although a conciliator cannot compel a union and an employer to reach an agreement, they do work with both sides to try to craft a negotiated settlement and to avoid labour disruption

The Nova Scotia Council of Healthcare Unions, made up of bargaining committee members from the NSGEU, CUPE and Unifor, have been attempting to negotiate a collective agreement on your behalf since October 2016 in the face of multiple challenges.

Liberal Government legislation requires that the Council negotiate a single collective agreement to replace the multiple agreements that were in place in each of the former District Health Authorities.

Additional Liberal legislation requiring a detailed and complicated essential services plan before the Council of Unions could engage in job action, has had a severe impact on negotiations. Without a concluded essential services plan, there is no threat of job action and therefore no pressure to cause the Employers to compromise in order to reach agreement on important benefits that will make up your new collective agreement.

The work of the Councils became even more complicated when the Liberal Government enacted even more legislation on August 22, 2017, which froze your wages for two years, provided minimal increases after that, and freezes the retirement allowance retroactive to April 1, 2015.

This legislation was proclaimed by the Provincial Liberal Government without warning and strips 75,000 people of benefits they previously had and relied on. We are currently challenging this legislation in the courts.

With little accomplished at the table, the Employers requested the assistance of a conciliator from the Department of Labour to assist the parties. The Health Council agrees that the appointment of a conciliator is needed.

It is expected conciliation will begin sometime in the next two months and is likely to last for many weeks due to the complexity of the task.

In the meantime, Council of Union negotiators continue to attempt to conclude an essential services agreement in order that the Council may be in a position to begin job action. The Employers’ essential services negotiators walked away from the table in the summer and have so far refused to come to the table to continue discussions. The Council negotiators continue to finalize their essential services proposal in the hopes of re-starting discussions in the coming weeks.

This round of bargaining has been a long and at times frustrating process for health care members. The McNeil Liberals have used their majority government unlike any other provincial government in Canada to invoke multiple pieces of anti-union legislation. Employer negotiators have shown no interest in bargaining in good faith and still refuse to table their proposed changes to sick leave benefits for health care workers. As a result there is nothing more we can accomplish at the table without the aid of a conciliator.

In spite of these barriers your Bargaining Committee has fought hard during these negotiations to protect key benefits that you have negotiated over the past four decades. For example, Employer negotiators continue to make clear they want complete control of your health and dental benefits plans. If the Council of Healthcare Unions were give up this control, the Employers could make unilateral changes to your benefits without the agreement of the unions.

The Health Care Council of Unions bargaining committee is made up of six members from NSGEU, three from CUPE and one from Unifor. The NSNU is also part of the Health Care Council. Health Care Bargaining Council is the lead table in this round of healthcare negotiations.

For more information, please contact:

Bargaining Committee:After 22 days of negotiations, multiple pieces of Liberal legislation attacking workers rights, and Employers who are attempting to take away key benefits from healthcare workers at the bargaining table, talks have finally broken down between the Nova Scotia Council of Healthcare Unions, the NSHA and IWK.

As a result the NSHA and IWK have filed for the help of a conciliator from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

When a union and an employer reach an impasse in bargaining, one or both parties can apply to the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education to have a conciliator assist in resolving the stalemate. Although a conciliator cannot compel a union and an employer to reach an agreement, they do work with both sides to try to craft a negotiated settlement and to avoid labour disruption

The Nova Scotia Council of Healthcare Unions, made up of bargaining committee members from the NSGEU, CUPE and Unifor, have been attempting to negotiate a collective agreement on your behalf since October 2016 in the face of multiple challenges.

Liberal Government legislation requires that the Council negotiate a single collective agreement to replace the multiple agreements that were in place in each of the former District Health Authorities.

Additional Liberal legislation requiring a detailed and complicated essential services plan before the Council of Unions could engage in job action, has had a severe impact on negotiations. Without a concluded essential services plan, there is no threat of job action and therefore no pressure to cause the Employers to compromise in order to reach agreement on important benefits that will make up your new collective agreement.

The work of the Councils became even more complicated when the Liberal Government enacted even more legislation on August 22, 2017, which froze your wages for two years, provided minimal increases after that, and freezes the retirement allowance retroactive to April 1, 2015.

This legislation was proclaimed by the Provincial Liberal Government without warning and strips 75,000 people of benefits they previously had and relied on. We are currently challenging this legislation in the courts.

With little accomplished at the table, the Employers requested the assistance of a conciliator from the Department of Labour to assist the parties. The Health Council agrees that the appointment of a conciliator is needed.

It is expected conciliation will begin sometime in the next two months and is likely to last for many weeks due to the complexity of the task.

In the meantime, Council of Union negotiators continue to attempt to conclude an essential services agreement in order that the Council may be in a position to begin job action. The Employers’ essential services negotiators walked away from the table in the summer and have so far refused to come to the table to continue discussions. The Council negotiators continue to finalize their essential services proposal in the hopes of re-starting discussions in the coming weeks.

This round of bargaining has been a long and at times frustrating process for health care members. The McNeil Liberals have used their majority government unlike any other provincial government in Canada to invoke multiple pieces of anti-union legislation. Employer negotiators have shown no interest in bargaining in good faith and still refuse to table their proposed changes to sick leave benefits for health care workers. As a result there is nothing more we can accomplish at the table without the aid of a conciliator.

In spite of these barriers your Bargaining Committee has fought hard during these negotiations to protect key benefits that you have negotiated over the past four decades. For example, Employer negotiators continue to make clear they want complete control of your health and dental benefits plans. If the Council of Healthcare Unions were give up this control, the Employers could make unilateral changes to your benefits without the agreement of the unions.

The Health Care Council of Unions bargaining committee is made up of six members from NSGEU, three from CUPE and one from Unifor. The NSNU is also part of the Health Care Council. Health Care Bargaining Council is the lead table in this round of healthcare negotiations.

For more information, please contact:

Bargaining Committee:

BILL 148 MEMBER UPDATE

HOW DID THE MCNEIL LIBERALS PROCLAMATION OF BILL 148 AFFECT US?

1. Regardless of classification or which hospital we work in, we have an imposed 4-year wage restraint of no increase for the first two years (0% and 0%), 1%, 1.5% and 0.5% on the last day of the fourth year. This is not a wage pattern agreed to by any membership of any major Union.

2. The second piece is a significant attack to our retirement allowance which we currently have in all of our Collective Agreements. Our current Collective Agreement grants a retirement allowance of 1 week pay for each year of service with the Employer to a maximum of 26 weeks at the time of retirement. This is a longstanding, fairly negotiated benefit that is now frozen effective April 1, 2015 and when it is eventually paid out, the retirement allowance will be paid based on your wage rate in effect on April 1, 2015. Retirement allowances will be frozen in service for accrual credit as of April 1, 2015. Retirement Allowance in any form has been stripped entirely away from anyone hired on or after April 1, 2015.

CAN STEPHEN MCNEIL AND HIS LIBERALS LEGALLY DO THIS TO US?

Stephen McNeil publicly announced that he and his government were sending this Bill for review on its constitutionality to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. Since then they have backtracked from that statement and have only sent specific sections of the Bill. They are only sending the question of wage restraint.

They are NOT sending the section of the Bill that reaches into our current Collective Agreement and freezes, limits or strips our retirement allowance. Which is the piece that was won in Court already in other provinces. CUPE is currently participating in a multi-union proceeding to seek status before the Court of Appeal on the wage restraint question. If the Unions are granted this status they will put forth evidence to why this is unconstitutional.

NSGEU has served notice of a charter challenge at the Supreme Court for their Civil Service members. CUPE National is now considering the next steps with regards to the legality and a challenge to the Bill.

In the meantime, CUPE Local 8920 will be filing grievances where a member retires and has the retirement allowance adjusted based on Bill 148. Please contact your 8920 Area VP if your retirement allowance payment has been adjusted or you are retiring.

If your MLA is a Liberal, give them a call or drop by for a visit and inquire to how they have made the choice to support this. Ask them why they are afraid to send the entirety of the Bill to the Court. And finally ask them how much payment they will receive in transition allowance for their length of stay in office. Don’t forget to point out that Stephen McNeil is the 3rd highest paid premier in the Country at $202,026 per year with a population shy of one million, behind only Ontario and Alberta with populations of 13.6 and 4.1 million. Not to mention, that last I checked Janet Knox the CEO of the NSHA is being paid $342,000. It’s odd how the McNeil Liberals believe Nova Scotians can afford those things.

Please follow for recent updates as they become available.

In Solidarity,
Bev Strachan,
President CUPE 8920

Bargaining Update – May 1, 2017

CUPE Members on the Health Care Council Bargaining Committee spent another four days at the table working to conclude a new collective agreement for members of Local 8920 and the other members of the Council.

The Council of Unions Executive Committee has decided to begin bargaining with the Health Care Council.  Once that is complete, bargaining will begin for Administrative Professional, Nursing and Support Services.  Bargaining began between the Council of Health Care Unions and the NSHA and IWK last fall and resumed on April 10th, 11th, 25th and 26th. There are more than 20 other bargaining dates set this summer and early fall.

Progress at the table has been very slow. The Employers have made it clear, however, that they want complete control of the health and dental benefits plans so they could make any unilateral changes to benefit.  And they have indicated they want to negotiate changes to sick leave that would negatively impact members although we do not have details to that proposal yet.

The provincial government’s decision to impose essential services legislation has had a direct impact on negotiations. Essential services negotiations are very complicated and detailed and have been going on since late 2015. The legislation requires the Council of Unions and NSHA and the IWK to agree on how many people in the Health Care Bargaining Unit will be at work in every health care and community care workplace across the province in the event of a strike or lockout.

Because there is no conclusion in sight on essential services negotiations, there is no imminent threat of a strike or lockout, which could be used to force the Employers to compromise and conclude a new collective agreement in bargaining. So we expect progress will continue to be slow.

As you may recall, other government legislation has required four unions to combine their collective agreements from across the province into a single agreement for the Health Care bargaining unit. This further complicates bargaining.

And finally, the provincial government’s decision to impose wage restraint and freeze retirement allowances for all public sector employees, means that members’ wages would not keep pace with the cost of living.

Despite all the difficulties, your bargaining committee, working closely with bargaining committee members from NSGEU and Unifor, will continue to work hard to negotiate both an essential services agreement and a collective agreement on your behalf.

The Health Care Council of Unions bargaining committee is made up of six members from NSGEU, three from CUPE and one from Unifor. The NSNU is also part of the Health Care Council.

For more information, please contact;

Bev Strachan – bevjmason@hotmail.com
Cheryl Burbidge – clb@live.ca
Dianne Frittenburg – dfritt@icloud.com

Bargaining Update – March 21, 2017

Yesterday, the Health Care Council of Unions, the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) and the IWK Health Centre completed a round of mediation, at the request of the Labour Board, which has resulted in an agreement to re-start bargaining toward a new collective agreement.

The Council of Unions (made up of NSGEU, Unifor, CUPE and NSNU health care workers across the province) filed a complaint with the Labour Board in January because of the IWK and NSHA’s failure to tell the unions what new sick leave plan they are proposing, as well as what new health and dental benefits plan they are proposing.

Prior to our complaint, the employers filed a complaint against the Council of Unions for failing to bargain. The Council of Unions took the position that it was always willing to bargain, but the employers were acting in bad faith by refusing to tell the Council what it proposed on these two key provisions.

The Council of Unions demonstrated its desire to bargain on Friday by immediately identifying and agreeing to 26 bargaining dates that begin on April 10 and continue through to November 16.

Prior to the mediation, the Labour Board chair left the Council with the clear impression that she could not force the employers to table the missing proposals. This left the Council with only the ability to persuade the employer’s negotiators to table their proposals on two crucial benefits for members. The Council pointed out that it was very difficult to negotiate without knowing the employers’ full proposals. The employers still refused.

However, during the complaint process the employer gave the Council of Unions key information about their sick leave proposal. The employers’ left the unions to understand that the employer’s sick leave proposal would be very badly received by our members, which is the reason why they did not intend to table it until the end of the process.

The employers also made it clear that they want complete control of the health and dental benefits plans, so they can make any unilateral changes to benefits that they wish.

This is a unique and challenging round of collective bargaining. The parties are in a new bargaining relationship that was imposed by legislation. A single collective agreement must be drafted to replace agreements for four different unions that are, in many instances, distinctly different.

We now know that the NSHA and IWK are attempting to use this round to seize unilateral control of the health and dental benefits for members and attack sick leave plans.

These attempted clawbacks of members’ rights are on top of government legislation (Bill 148) that will freeze wages for two years, offer minimal increases after the two-year period, and freeze members retirement allowances back to April 2015.

The Council of Unions will be looking for the support from members across the province as we bargain with employers who are intent on attacking your key benefits. We will keep you updated as bargaining progresses.

The Health Care Council of Unions bargaining committee is made up of six members from NSGEU, three from CUPE and one from Unifor. The NSNU is also part of the Health Care Council.

For more bargaining updates and information about the health care bargaining council, please visit our website at 8920.cupe.ca/news.

For more information, please contact:

Bev Strachan – bevjmason@hotmail.com

Cheryl Burbidge – clb@live.ca
Dianne Frittenburg – fritt@bellaliant.net