HSP Bargaining Update: FAQ on Bargaining and Job Action

Dear HSP members,

The HSPBA bargaining committee is engaged in focused discussions with the employer through most of June. The discussions are being led by subgroups of the committee negotiating matters related to managing union leave disputes and expedited arbitration procedures.

Negotiations continue, and progress is being made, but more slowly than hoped for at the outset. To date, we have had high-level discussions on wages and monetary proposals, including issues related to leaves, classifications and recruitment/retention. We hope to make as much progress on this as possible before negotiations pause for a summer break.

The committee continues to work hard to achieve the goals of health science professionals including agreements on action for recruitment, retention, respect, recognition of the responsibility held by health science professional members of the health care team, and supporting resilience in our physical and mental well being.

The PEA has posted a series of FAQs based on general job action questions. Below are some questions about how the bargaining process works, and what happens if job action becomes necessary. The full list is posted here but below are a number of the most common questions:

Our current contract expired in March. What happens now?
While the contracts covering HSP members expired on March 31, 2022, the terms of these agreements remain in force until new contracts are negotiated and voted on by all union members. That means your pay and benefits remain unchanged for the time being.

Who is negotiating my new contract?
The Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) collective agreement, is being negotiated by a bargaining committee comprised of professional negotiators employed by the union, subject experts on specialized labour relations matters, and ordinary HSPBA members elected by their peers to ensure member concerns are addressed at the bargaining table and in the new agreement.

When might HSPBA go on strike?
Negotiations for the contracts covering HSP members began in March 2022, and are still in the early stages. Talks with the employers will likely continue for the next few months. If no progress is made by the fall, and bargaining is at a stalemate, HSPBA may consider taking a strike vote then.

What if another union goes on strike in the next few weeks?
If you see a picket line at your workplace, do not cross it. Immediately call the PEA office at 250-385-8791 or toll-free at 1-800-779-7736. If another union plans to go on strike, they will communicate through the BC Federation of Labour with other unions that may have members affected by the strike picket line.

What would a strike or job action look like?
We take job action when withdrawing our services is the only power left to us to achieve our bargaining demands, and before taking any sort of job action, we must take a strike vote.

Job action can take many forms. It could start with the refusal to perform specific duties and escalate to an all-out withdrawal of everything but essential services. A common form of job action is “work to rule”. This is where you refuse to do any duties that are not specifically part of your job description, like certain paperwork,  administrative duties, or portering. A ban on overtime is a similar form of job action. These types of job actions place pressure on the employer while keeping members at work. Rotating job action is where members withdraw their services for a short period of time, usually one day. An example of rotating job action is to withdraw services in one department for one day, and then have the members return to work the next day while another department withdraws their services. This type of action minimizes financial loss to HSP members while putting pressure on the employer.

Maintaining care for patients and clients remains a top priority, and essential levels of service, which are negotiated with the employer, must, by law, be maintained.

What are essential services? How will I know if I’m considered essential?
Essential service levels are currently being negotiated between the union and the employer. No job action can be taken until such time as the final levels are agreed to by the BC Labour Board.

In the event of job action, the union will take over responsibility for scheduling the work needed to achieve essential services, and in order to be eligible for these essential service shifts, HSP members must perform picket duty. This can take a number of forms as there are a lot of jobs that need to be done during job action. The PEA will work with local reps and members at your workplace to ensure you know what to do and that essential service shifts are distributed equitably.

During the time that members attend work for essential service shifts, they are paid their regular salary by the employer. When members are performing their picket duty jobs, they are paid by the union.

Thank you,

Rhiannon Bray
Labour Relations Officer

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