14–16% wage increases, protections against violence, and more
Over 3,000 members of the UFCW 1518 Community Health sector, who provide home care to vulnerable people across British Columbia, are celebrating today after ratifying an historic collective agreement. The new contract will benefit Community Health workers and their clients now and into the future, bringing needed stability into the sector.
The agreement covers Community Health Care workers in eight different unions, including UFCW 1518. Collectively, they comprise the Community Bargaining Association (CBA), whose resolve at the bargaining table has resulted in some of the highest wage increases that community health workers have ever received in the CBA’s history.
UFCW 1518 Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson says that it’s about time. “Our members and other Community Health workers are finally getting the respect and recognition they need and deserve. These significant wage increases are overdue and were desperately needed for these folks who work every day to keep our health care system afloat.”
Over 94% of CBA members voted in favour of the new three-year collective agreement.
Improvements to wages and benefits structure
The new agreement will help bridge the gap that’s been widening between these workers and their counterparts in facilities. Not only does it include, on average, a 14–16% wage increase for all members over three years, but there are also improved premiums for weekends and evenings and guaranteed-hours positions.
The deal also features a significant funding commitment from the government to ensure the long-term viability of the CBA members’ Health Benefits Trust, which features a new and improved funding structure.
“Our members’ jobs are physically and mentally draining enough without the added worry that their benefits could be in danger,” says Johnson. “With this deal, they don’t have to worry—their benefits are secure.”
Much of the stress frontline workers in Community Health Care experience stems from chronic understaffing and intense workloads. The new collective agreement seeks to resolve this serious issue by prioritizing retention and recruitment of talent through improvements to monetary and non-monetary conditions.
From avenues for addressing crushing workload to protections against workplace violence, the new contract is making Community Health and Home Support jobs more attractive, respectful and safe. And Johnson says that this is good news for all parts of the public care system.
“By doing consistent house visits and providing mobility exercises, home care workers like our members prevent overcrowding in emergency rooms and continuing-care centres,” says Johnson, “Their jobs are critical, so when they have the resources that they need to provide quality support and when we have a robust community care system in place, everyone benefits.”