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HSA extends warm welcome to clinical perfusionists

The Report: February / March 1999 vol.19 num.6

by CINDY STEWART

On February 17 the Labour Relations Board ruled that HSA is theappropriate union to represent clinical perfusionists in the health sector, and have beenso since the sprint of 1997 when they applied to be paramedical professionals. In Februaryof 1997, clinical perfusionists sought paramedical professional designation on the basisthat a paramedical professional bargaining unit more appropriately represents theircommunity of interest. They also felt they met the other criteria necessary to be placedin a paramedical bargaining unit. These criteria have existed since 1978 and were recentlyupdated in 1995 to reflect a less institutional delivery of health.

In November of 1997, the Labour Board ruled that clinical perfusionistsdid indeed meet the criteria. In previous rulings where workers were placed in theparamedical professional unit and HSA held the certification, the board ruled that HSA wasthe appropriate bargaining agent. However, in the November ‘97 decision the LRB wassilent on the issue of which union would represent them.

HSA has held the certifications at the facilities in question for over25 years and joined with the Perfusionists in seeking a definitive ruling from the LRB.Other parties felt that the new legislation, Bill 28, overturned 25 years of jurisprudencein the sector ... that a ‘transfer referenced in the legislation referred toa ‘transfer between bargaining units. The Board has ruled that‘transfer refers to changes resulting from health reform, not changes resultingfrom meeting specific and long-standing criteria of certain bargaining units.

Some would take the position that this is a bad decision that opens thedoor to numerous applications. But, lets take an honest look at the history in thissector. In 25 years there has been a net movement of a few hundred workers: some movinginto the paramedical professional unit and some moving out of the unit. In the context of50,000 health workers, that is minimal movement indeed. The action is not done lightly; itis a rigorous test and one that most workers recognized they would not meet, nor want tomeet.

HSA has an exemplary record of representing the needs of paramedicalprofessionals. Our union was founded upon a community of interest that is not alwaysunderstood, appreciated or supported in other bargaining units. This does not make HSAmembers ‘elite or ‘better, ... rather, it makes us different withrespect to our bargaining objectives and representational needs. We can appreciate thatother unions may not agree with that position and we can respect that, just as we ask thatthey respect the aspirations of paramedical professionals to be represented by abargaining agent that understands and respects their desires.

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