HSA: hard at work for each and every member

The Report: October / November 1999 vol.20 num.3


There is a common misconception held by many that once a contract is ratified,negotiations are concluded. That is not the case. The activities that flow from theParamedical Professional table illustrate how the process of negotiations continues wellbeyond the ratification date.

Just the printing of a new collective agreement is a major task. The work beganimmediately following ratification and involved months of meetings with the employer andthe printer. The new contract is just now being distributed to the membership.

Another task has been to conclude two separate “levelling” processes. Themost recent (the Foley process) was negotiated for those employees covered by theparamedical professional contract after April 1998. The previous (the Taylor process) wasstill outstanding from the 1996 round of negotiations. The latter proved impossible toresolve earlier as the employer refused to move off their position that employees affectedwould be placed into a “new” classification system not yet negotiated. It wasnot until our current classification system was confirmed in the 1998 negotiations that wewere finally able to conclude the proper placement of members in the classificationsystem.

While agreement has been reached with respect to placement of members in theclassification system, wages have not yet been adjusted. HSA has met with the PublicSector Employers’ Council (PSEC), Ministry of Health and HEABC to expedite thepayment of this money owing since 1996. Wage adjustments will be made soon, but thebenefit packages and retroactive pay remain outstanding and will require furthernegotiations.

The process to set up the new Long Term Disability plan was protracted and complicated,involving a number of trust lawyers representing the union, employer and governmentrespectively. The Trust Agreement, Plan Document and Administrative Agreements had to benegotiated before the 6 million dollars was released. This work has now been concluded andour new (LTD Trust #2) and previous (LTD Trust #1) plans are operating with the new commonplan administrator: the Healthcare Benefit Trust (HBT).

The OH&S Agency, initially negotiated at the Facilities Support table, also addedto the post-ratification activity. Following a series of meetings, the Agency’sstructure and mandate was finalized and the key position of Executive Director has beenfilled. We now look forward to the Agency beginning the critical task of addressing healthand safety issues in the workplace.

We have started and will continue to meet with senior representatives of the B.C.Cancer Agency. Labour relations problems within the Agency were brought to the fore as aresult of the first ever job action by BCCA members.

This, in turn, triggered meetings between HSA and the Ministry – and eventuallybetween HSA and the Agency.

We have met with ICBC, WCB and government representatives to discuss rehabilitationservices. These meetings have been promising and will continue as we explore how theparties can work together to enhance rehabilitation services.

This short list outlines just some of the work that continues beyond a ratificationdate. While these examples are reflective of the Paramedical Professional table, the workcan be extrapolated to all the tables where HSA represented members: Nurses, CommunitySupport and CSSEA. For HSA, there is no “end” to negotiations.