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Community health bargaining seeks to end 16 years of neglect

UFCW 1518 met this week with the Health Employers Association of British Columbia (HEABC) in Vancouver to review priorities and begin negotiations. Bargaining proposals were tabled Thursday morning to achieve a new collective agreement with about 2200 members in working community health.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak. “After 16 years of neglect of the community health services that are so core to British Columbia’s health care system, it’s time for change. I’m pleased that we have now entered into a more positive negotiating climate, with an employer that understands the value of our community health workers.”

Bargaining proposals will push for increased funding and benefits and seek to address the critical issues of recruitment and retention, as well as precarious work schedules. Both parties also acknowledged that building a more robust community health sector is essential for accommodating an aging population.

UFCW 1518 bargains as part of the Community Bargaining Association, along with other unions including BCGEU, HEU, HAS, CUPE and USWA. The CBA represents about 16,000 employees working in community health around the province.

The existing contract between the CBA and HEABC expires on March 31, 2019, with bargaining scheduled to continue for approximately five weeks.