BURNABY—CUPE National President Mark Hancock had a sober message for Pacific Blue Cross when he joined locked out CUPE 1816 members at the picket line on Monday afternoon: cutting employees’ retiree benefits is a good way to ruin the PBC brand.
“These workers are the heart and soul of Pacific Blue Cross. They’ve made the company what it is today, and they’re dedicated to making it the best benefits provider it can be. And yet they are being treated with no respect at all,” said Hancock.
“Going after retiree benefits is unacceptable, and we know this company is financially sound. So they need to stop the B.S., get back to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair contract that not only defends those benefits but returns some dignity and respect to this workplace.”
Hancock and CUPE 1816 members were joined on the picket line by CUPE BC President Paul Faoro, United Steelworkers District 3 President Steve Hunt, and several members of MoveUP.
Late last week the CUPE 1816 negotiating committee announced that, resulting from mediation, the Local was successful in reducing the levels for Essential Service workers and reached an agreement with the employer that the unilateral changes to the Collective Agreement would not apply to the Essential Services employees.
Meanwhile, the Employer continues to make dubious or erroneous claims in its correspondence with CUPE 1816 members.
For example, on July 13 Vice President Rob Chiarello, in a letter attached to employee pay stubs, claimed that PBC’s most recent proposal on July 7 “would have no changes to retiree health benefits.” Rather than responding to every statement like this, the Union is encouraging members to return such letters with their own messages attached.
For photos from the lockout line, visit the gallery.