Community health workers move closer to wage parity

After months of talks, the Low Wage Redress Committee announced the allocation of $40 million in additional funding negotiated in the last round of bargaining between the Community Bargaining Association (CBA) and the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC). The funding is intended to address wage discrepancies between community health workers and their counterparts who work in facilities such as hospitals.

The multi-union CBA represents about 16,000 community health workers across British Columbia, including 2000 UFCW 1518 members. The Low Wage Redress Committee is made up of representatives from CBA unions as well as the employer. The deadline for allocating the funds was November 30, 2018 but the parties reached an impasse and the outstanding issues were brought before arbitrator Vince Ready.

“Because of the low wage redress funding that the bargaining association negotiated, our members’ wages will be within 1.5 percent of their comparable classification in the facilities sub-sector by the end of the agreement in April, 2021,” said President Kim Novak. “It is a fantastic achievement and it is long overdue.” The low wage redress funding is in addition to a general wage hike of two percent in each year of the three year deal.  Low wage redress funding is effective April 5, which is the first pay period after April 1, 2019.

Most UFCW 1518 members are classified as Community Health Worker 2 (now grid 21), Mental Health Worker 2 (now grid 34), and Scheduler 2. Because the low wage redress funding will be applied first to classifications farthest away from the facilities wage rates,  wages for members in the Scheduler 2 classification will not reflect low wage redress funding until the second and third years of the collective agreement.

“In addition to improving wages, some of the low wage redress monies went to a night shift premium, which I’m pleased to say will reach parity with the FBA,” President Novak explained. “If members work the majority of their shift between midnight and 8:00 a.m. they will receive a premium of $2 an hour, and that will rise to $2.50 by the end of the contract.”

Most of the classifications in the CBA agreement have been reclassified to reflect their equivalent in the Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA). Classifications are listed in the job description, which the employer can provide to members on request. Please click here for the updated wage schedule (Schedule A in the collective agreement and corresponding pay rates. Click here for the new grid assignments.

Some jobs remain unclassified, including some transit drivers represented by UFCW 1518, and funds have been set aside so these members receive the low wage redress in the second year of the contract as the committee works to classify all jobs.