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

CUPE 8920 Health Care Bargaining Update January 2017

CUPE 8920 Health Care Bargaining Update

Dear Sisters and Brothers:
The Health Care Bargaining Council, which includes members of the CUPE 8920 bargaining committee, has made a formal bargaining complaint on Thursday, January 19, 2017, against your employer with the Labour Board.

Bargaining between the Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions and the NSHA and IWK has stalled because the Employers are refusing to tell the Unions what they are proposing for key aspects of the new collective agreements.

The Council of Unions’ bargaining committee is made up of three members, from CUPE, six from NSGEU, and one from Unifor. The Council has repeatedly asked for the NSHA and IWK to table their full proposals. The Employers have refused.

At issue are three key proposals: sick leave; health and life benefits plans; and pay plan maintenance (the process that evaluates whether people are properly paid for the work they do).

The Council has repeatedly informed the Employers that their refusal to table key proposals leaves the Council at an unfair disadvantage where it is being asked to bargain in the dark and leave critical cornerstone elements of our agreement to be negotiated after issues of key importance to the employer are dealt with. The Employers’ refusal to table those proposals has left bargaining at an impasse as the Council will not continue bargaining until the items are tabled.
In order to end the impasse and resume bargaining on the health care agreement, the Council of Unions has filed a complaint with the Labour Board. That complaint asks that the Board order the “Employers to prepare and table forthwith a comprehensive proposal for a collective agreement for the Health Care Bargaining Unit.”

SICK LEAVE

There are two sick leave plans currently in use across the NSHA and IWK.

The Council of Unions has proposed using the Short Term Illness Plan that is currently in place, in what was known as the former Capital District Health Authority, for most NSHA and IWK employees and it has proposed keeping the existing short term illness plan for Public Health Addictions and Continuing Care employees.

If successful, this proposal means CUPE 8920 members would move to the Short Term Illness plan, which would improve sick leave coverage for people who have illness or injury early in their working careers or recurring illnesses or injuries in a short period of time.

Although Short Term Illness pays at 75% or regular pay, depending on sick leave utilization, members can accrue “top up credits” that could provide for 100% paid sick leave in roughly half the time as CUPE members’ current plan.
The Employers are refusing to say what they will propose despite the fact bargaining has started.

GROUP HEALTH & LIFE

There are also three different group health and life plans in operation at the NSHA and IWK. The Council of Unions has proposed keeping the status quo and leaving people in their existing plans. The Employers have said they just want one plan and they want complete control of the plan including the ability to change it at their sole discretion. But the Employers are again refusing to say what that plan would be. These benefits plans cover everything from dental care and drug plans to retiree benefits.

JOINT JOB EVALUATION PROCESS

The Joint Job Evaluation process evaluates whether people are properly paid for the work they do. The Council has proposed the current job evaluation process already in place at the former Capital Health Authority, but with changes that will address delays that have stalled important re-evaluations in the past.

The Employers have not tabled a proposal, however they have recently said they will do so soon. If so, this issue would be resolved.

For further information on the bargaining process to date, as well as background on the formation of the Health Care bargaining council, please visit our website: Bargaining updates

If you have questions or concerns about the bargaining process, please contact a member of your CUPE 8920 bargaining committee:
• Bev Strachan – bevjmason@hotmail.com
• Cheryl Burbidge – clb@live.ca
• Dianne Frittenburg – fritt@bellaliant.net

Bargaining Update – November 21, 2016

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Bargaining between the Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions and the NSHA and IWK has stalled because the Employers have taken the unprecedented step of simply refusing to tell the Unions what they are proposing for several key aspects of the new collective agreements.

The Council of Unions bargaining committee is made up of six members from NSGEU, three from CUPE Local 8920 and one from Unifor. That council has asked repeatedly for the NSHA and IWK to table their full proposals. On Wednesday the Employers again refused.

At issue are three key proposals; sick leave, health and life benefits plans and pay plan maintenance (the process that evaluates whether people are properly paid for the work they do).

There are two sick leave plans currently in use across the NSHA and IWK. The Council of Unions has proposed using the current Local 42 Short Term Illness plan for all NSHA and IWK employees. Among other things, this plan ensures people who have recurring illnesses or injuries in a short period of time have better sick leave provisions. And it allows people to collect 100 per cent paid sick leave in roughly half the time as the other plan.

The Employers are refusing to say what they will propose despite the fact bargaining has started and the two sides have exchanged proposals.

There are also two different group health and life plans in operation at the NSHA and IWK. The Council of Unions has proposed keeping the status quo and leaving people in their existing plans. The Employers have said they just want one plan but are again refusing to say what that plan would be. These benefit plans cover everything from dental care and drug plans to retiree benefits.

It appears the Employers will table the current Local 42 Joint Job Evaluation process for their pay plan maintenance proposal. The Council has asked for confirmation of that and more details. The Council has proposed the current Local 42 method, but with changes that will address delays that have stalled important re-evaluations.

On November 21, the Council informed the Employers that their refusal to table key proposals leaves the Council at an unfair disadvantage where it is being asked to bargain in the dark and being asked to leave critical cornerstone elements of our agreement to be negotiated after issues of key importance to the employer are dealt with. The Council is keen to move ahead with bargaining once the Employer tables all its proposals but will not bargain under circumstances that provide a strategic advantage to the Employers.

To see previous updates or review the Council’s proposals click here. Bargaining update – October 7, 2016

If you have questions or concerns about the bargaining process, please contact a member of your bargaining committee:

Bev Strachan (President CUPE Local 8920) – bevjmason@hotmail.com
Dianne Frittenburg – dfritt@icloud.com
Cheryl Burbidge – clb@live.ca

Health Care Bargaining – October 7, 2016

October 7, 2016

Good afternoon,

The Health Care Bargaining Council, including the members of your bargaining committee, met on Monday, October 3rd to exchange bargaining proposals with employer representatives.

This is a very unique round of bargaining because of legislation passed by the Liberal government, which significantly impacts the way we bargain.

As a result of the new Health Authorities Act, all four unions (NSGEU, CUPE, Unifor & NSNU) now have to bargain in four Bargaining Councils, which means we have to merge multiple collective agreements into a single set of bargaining proposals.

This has proven to be a complicated and time-consuming process. In addition, the threat of wage restraint legislation (Bill 148) inhibits our ability to bargain freely, because it dictates wages, including a two year freeze, and freezes your retirement allowance on a go-forward basis. We are concerned that the shadow cast over bargaining by this legislation will make it difficult to reach an agreement that members will be comfortable ratifying.

However, all unions are working together to navigate this new structure and ensure we are prepared to bargain the best possible agreement on behalf of all of our members. Premier Stephen McNeil gave his personal commitment that healthcare workers would not lose benefits as a result of his government’s restructuring process, and our proposals were developed with that commitment in mind.

View our full bargaining proposal for employees of the Nova Scotia Health Authority: NSHA-Full-Final-October-2016

 

As you will see, these are extensive proposals which amend key provisions of our agreements including Job Security and Job Posting, among a host of others. These amendments are necessary to reflect the fact there is now a province-wide Employer in NSHA and the IWK.

The employer’s proposals did not include key provisions and language from CUPE, Unifor and NSNU collective agreements, as well as NSGEU agreements at the IWK and in Public Health Addictions and Continuing Care. These are important provisions which were fairly negotiated over decades and reflect the different experiences and history of these members and unions. The Employers at the IWK and NSHA also indicated they will table their proposals on key issues like sick leave at a later date, so it is not yet clear what they plan in several of these key areas.

The exchange of proposals was cordial, but there is still much work to be done. We have additional bargaining dates scheduled for October 13th and 14th; November 22nd and 23rd; December 7th and 8th; January 10th, 11th and 12th; and February 7th, 8th and 9th.

We will provide you with updated information as bargaining continues. If you have questions or concerns about the bargaining process, please contact a member of your bargaining committee.

Bev Strachan
Dianne Frittenburg
Cheryl Burbidge