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October 17, 2011

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CSS workers approve new contracts

New agreement improves job security, work practices in community-based social services sector

BURNABY—British Columbia’s frontline community-based social service workers have approved their new collective agreements. The vote was 88 per cent in favour for General Services and 79 per cent in favour for Community Living Services.

“This agreement offers important improvements for workers who support children, women, adults with developmental disabilities, and other vulnerable members in our communities,” says Michael Lanier, CUPE bargaining member. “The quality of care and support we are able to provide is directly impacted by the workers’ job security and working conditions,” says Lanier.

The agreement improves job security and fair work practices for community-based social service workers, such as bumping, job selection language and bullying.

In addition, the government has approved a $600,000 retraining grant for workers in the sector, which face constant upheaval from group home closures, cutbacks in agencies that serve women in crisis, people with disabilities, and children with special needs. The new agreement was ratified effective October 14, 2011 and runs until March 31, 2012.

Bargaining demands were backed up by an 82 per cent strike mandate from the 15,000 unionized workers in May.

The Community Social Services Bargaining Association includes nine unions representing about 15,000 workers employed by 220 agencies across British Columbia.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) is the lead union in the sector with over 10,000 members. CUPE, HEU, HSA are the next largest followed by USW, UFCW, CSWU, CLAC and BCNU.

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