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)

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.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Most Read