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

Sooke’s Old-Fashioned Country Picnic set for Saturday

The free event combines music, kids activities, food and fun

Take your opportunity to sing at the Royal Theatre

Great Canadian Sing debuts Sept. 8 with inspirational music, talented performers, singalong format

PHOTOS: Inside the opening of the expanded Westhills Stadium

The grand opening of the expanded stadium in Langford is on schedule for Aug. 24

Victoria’s Other Secret not so secret anymore

How six Mount Doug teachers turned a lunch jam into $11,000 raised for charity

Award-nominated Snotty Nose Rez Kids headline Indigifest 2019 coming to Victoria

Scheduled for Aug. 24, the event is a showcase of Indigenous musicians from around B.C.

70 years of lifting: Canadian man, 85, could cinch weightlifting championship

The senior gym junkie is on track to win the World Masters Weightlifting championship

Sooke’s Old-Fashioned Country Picnic set for Saturday

The free event combines music, kids activities, food and fun

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

Most Read