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

EDITORIAL: The best or the least worst

Negative messaging abandons the quest for the best and instead asks voters to choose the least worst

COLUMN: Much to enjoy at Ryga Arts Festival

As I learn about George Ryga and his contributions, it is clear why this festival carries his name

Art and music at Summerland Ornamental Gardens

Second event of the summer will be held Sunday, Aug. 25

New Penticton/Kelowna transit route ready to roll out

Route 70 Penticton/Kelowna will provide a direct trip to Kelowna from Penticton and Summerland

South Okanagan powwow strikes a chord on the human level for federal minister

Canada’s Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan was the special guest at powwow

VIDEO: Facebook rolls out tool to block off-Facebook data gathering

CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the “clear history” feature more than a year ago

B.C. rainbow crosswalk covered in mysterious black substance

Black substance spilled intentionally near Vancouver Island school and difficult to remove

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Partially cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms

Across the Okanagan, weather is not expected to break 30 C

One pet unaccounted for after early morning Kelowna house fire

A Lakeshore Road home caught fire before 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning

Coming home: Okanagan softball star returns after career-changing injury

Shayla Tyerman joins UBC Okanagan in their inaugural season in the WCSA

RCMP originally planned to arrest Meng Wanzhou on plane, defence lawyers say

The allegations have not been proven in court. Meng was arrested Dec. 1 at Vancouver airport at the behest of the U.S.

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Ethics commissioner ready to testify on Trudeau, SNC-Lavalin: NDP critic

A new poll suggests the report hasn’t so far hurt the Liberals’ chances of re-election this fall

Inflation hits Bank of Canada 2% target for second straight month

Prices showed strength in other areas, including an 18.9 per cent increase in the cost of fresh vegetables

Most Read