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December 3, 2013

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Five-year tentative agreement reached in community health services

The Community Bargaining Association (CBA) has reached a tentative agreement for the 15,000 union members working in the community health sector across the province. The CBA entered into early talks with the Health Employers’ Association of BC (HEABC) as part of a multi-sector bargaining strategy with bargaining associations representing workers in community social services and the provincial government.

Among other things, the five-year agreement closes wage gaps between health workers with equivalent positions.

Highlights of the tentative agreement include:

· Wage increases that total 5.5 per cent over five years for all members;

· Additional wage comparability adjustments totaling 2 per cent over three years for members with occupations similar to those covered by the facilities subsector agreement;

· Increased health and welfare benefits to equal benefits in the facilities subsector agreement;

· Examples of benefit improvements include: removal of the pre-existing condition restriction for LTD, Medical Referral Transportation benefits unlimited for a beneficiary’s lifetime and increased coverage of hormone-replacement medication;

· Increased mileage and meal allowances to the level of the public service agreement; and

· Maintained current provisions for employment security and protection against contracting out.

Also agreed to by the parties is the establishment of a Joint Community Benefits Trust. The jointly-run trust will take over the management and decision-making of community health benefits starting on April 1, 2016.

The joint benefits trust in community health contains the following assurances:

· HEABC will provide $2.4 million in leveling funds to cover benefit cost increases over the term of the agreement. This way, the trust has the money to maintain benefit levels without increasing costs to members.

· An additional Long Term Disability (LTD) cushion. Though projections show that the leveling funds should more than cover the cost of benefits, the first 2% of increased premium costs caused by increased use will be absorbed by HEABC.

The new community health agreement expires March 31, 2019.

CUPE community health workers will receive a more detailed report and information on ratification balloting in the coming days.

The Community Bargaining Association bargains on behalf of 15,000 unionized community health workers in British Columbia.



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