BURNABY – Members of unions represented by the Health Sciences Professionals’ Bargaining Association (HSPBA) have voted to ratify an agreement with the Health Employers’ Association. The 17,000 members of the bargaining association voted 76 percent in favour of the deal.
“CUPE members voted against this agreement,” said Mark Hancock, President of CUPE BC. “We remain disappointed the deal does not provide a fair wage increase. We are not at all hopeful that the so-called ‘Economic Stability Dividend’ will do anything for our members.”
The Economic Stability Dividend would see an additional wage increase if economic growth exceeds government estimates. Had the “Dividend” been in place for the last collective agreement, a member earning an annual salary of $50,000 would have seen an increase of as little as $2 per month. For the “Dividend” to make a real difference, economic growth would have to be much greater than government estimates.
The new agreement also proposed a new benefits trust that may put more risk and liability on individual members, leading to either higher premiums or reduced benefits. For example, the rate of inflation for dental benefits is 3-4 percent per year, and the rate of inflation for extended health benefits is in the range of 9-11 percent per year. The new agreement may force a significant increase in funding by members for current benefit levels or to implement significant cuts to the benefits members are eligible to receive.
“We will work with HSPBA to ensure the trust is properly funded and set up, to ensure minimization of any risk,” said CUPE National Representative, Troy Clifford. “CUPE has expertise in helping manage the Public Education Benefits Trust for education workers in BC schools. With this knowledge, CUPE will work diligently to make certain workers receive fair treatment in the administration of their benefits.”
CUPE represents 725 members under the HSPBA. HSA is the lead union in the 17,000 member bargaining association. Other unions in the bargaining association are BCGEU, PEA, and HEU.