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