Unions win $100M to fix low wages
Contracts will help 30,000 community service and healthcare workers across B.C.
Over 30,000 community health-care and social-services workers in B.C. have won a combined $100 million in redress funding to account for low wages.
The Community Health Bargaining Association (CBA), which represents 16,000 people working in senior care, home care and other aspects of community health care, have ratified an agreement with the Health Employers Association of BC for a total of $40 million in redress funding, in addition to a general wage increase for each year of the three year agreement.
The Community Social Service (CSS) Association, which represents 15,000 workers at neighbourhood houses, community centres, shelters and other facilities, have also ratified an agreement for $60 million in redress funding with their employer’s association.
Sheryl Burns, president of CUPE Local 1936 which is part of the CSS, said that union members are “super happy ” about the new agreement which will come into effect
next April. Burns said that is because workers in community services have been struggling to get by in the Metro Vancouver area.
“Because our workers are paid so poorly, they can’t actually afford to live and work in the area,” she said. “Many workers work two and three jobs in order to survive . . . single parents go to food banks, it’s really horrible.”
Many positions for workers in community health and community
services are paid under $19 per hour, or less than the living wage in Metro Vancouver, which is $20.91. While the distribution of the redress funding is still yet to be determined, Burns said it will involve a focus on the lowest paid workers, and will be decided by a committee. “We want more money going to lowest paid workers ... it will be based on job classifications and that will help us determine how best to distribute the money,”
The funding will also help to address issues in employee retention for community health positions. Chris Losito, CUPE Health Coordinator for BC, said that workers in other job categories, particularly in hospital facilities where workers are represented by the Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA), were doing similar jobs to community health workers.
Members of the CUPE bargaining team. Health and social service workers have won deals of over $100 million in redress funding, which will go to over 30,000 workers.