Unions win $100M to fix low wages

Con­tracts will help 30,000 com­mu­nity ser­vice and health­care work­ers across B.C.

StarMetro Vancouver - - VANCOUVER - CHERISE SEUCHARAN The full story at thes­tar.com/van­cou­ver

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,”

she said.

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.

CUPE

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.

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