B.C.CEO Network chair Doug Tennant speaks to rally at B.C. legislature April 2. Premier John Horgan dismissed the visit as “question period fodder” for the opposition. (bcceonetwork.ca)

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

The B.C. government is in discussions with a group of community care agencies after they delivered a threat of legal action to challenge an additional raise given only to unionized employees.

The B.C. CEO Network, representing more than 120 union and non-union community and social service agencies, says the $40 million “low-wage redress” fund the province provided in its budget has been withheld from 17,000 employees because they aren’t members of the B.C. Government Employees Union or the Hospital Employees Union. The unionized staff receive a wage increase three times the size of what non-union employees get to do the same work, in some cases for the same agency, B.C. CEO Network board chair Doug Tennant says.

The employees work for contract agencies that care for people with mental and physical disabilities and addictions, new immigrants and vulnerable children and seniors, according to the Federation of Community Social Services of B.C. As of April 1, union and non-union employees received the two per cent raise in each of the next three years that has been offered to unions across government.

The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty reduction, which administers many of the contracts, issued a statement Thursday indicating that its senior staff are in discussions with Tennant. A response is to be provided to him “in the coming weeks,” the ministry said.

READ MORE: B.C. NDP avoids questions on $40M union-only fund

Board vice-chair Karyn Santiago objected to comments made by Premier John Horgan last week, suggesting non-union agencies might not deliver low-wage redress payments to their employees. The Community Social Services Employers Association, which bargains for the agencies, has been collecting data on 675 non-union agencies for three years, and each provides a letter “to confirm that they will deliver 100 per cent of all the wage increases directly to the employees,” Santiago said.

The ministry replied that the reporting is voluntary and “at this time non-union service providers have operational discretion to determine employee pay rates.”

On Feb. 28, the HEU reported to its members that “progress is being made” on allocating the $40 million fund.

In a letter to Finance Minister Carole James, Vancouver lawyer Delayne Sartison called the government’s action “unfair and damaging” to services and a violation of the Labour Relations Code.

“Non-union workers will have no choice but to either (a) unionize their current employer, or (b) quit their jobs and find jobs doing the same work with union employers or within the unionized aspects of hybrid employers in order to receive the low wage redress increases that the government has publicly stated are imported for the sector,” Sartison wrote.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Firefighters battling two blazes on Highway 1 south of Ashcroft

Highway has reopened to single-lane, alternating traffic led by a pilot car so expect delays

Fires on Highway 1, CN mainline keep Ashcroft firefighters busy

Two vehicle fires and a rail fire sparked within an 11-day span

Reports on seniors’ needs, downtown show way forward for Cache Creek

‘I hope they won’t gather dust’ says Cache Creek mayor

Counselling support available for those impacted by wildfires

New, confidential, free service in region designed for families or individuals

Local News Briefs: Come out and rock

Join Rawkn’ Art Camp participants as they show off their accomplishments, and stay for a concert

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

VIDEO: RCMP unveil new, state-of-the-art forensics lab in Surrey

The laboratory is expected to handle thousands of forensic services from across Canada annually

Scheer promises EI tax credit for new parents if Conservatives form government

The government currently taxes employment insurance benefits for new parents

B.C. seizes 1.5M grams contraband tobacco, down from 5.75M grams the year prior

The 2019-2020 seizures were a sharp drop compared to the 2018-2019 year,

B.C. Speaker tight-lipped about aide’s legislature security tour

B.C. Liberals question Alan Mullen’s drive across Canada, U.S.

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

Most Read