It is critically important that you vote
Dear Health Care Bargaining Unit members,
Your bargaining committee and several other volunteers have been putting in long hours at phone banks, regional strike vote meetings and on telephone town halls urging NSGEU health care members across the province to vote to strike to back your bargaining demands.
It has become clear the Employers are attempting to take advantage of restructuring in health care and are doing all they can to reduce your rights and benefits. Your bargaining committee believes that a strong strike vote is the only way to conclude a fair collective agreement on your behalf.
Membership reaction is very positive. NSGEU health care members at the IWK and the NSHA are saying they will vote to protect rights and benefits earned over decades of bargaining.
Your committee also needs you to understand that you must vote. This is critically important. Under the Trade Union Act, all votes to strike are counted as a percentage of the total membership. This means if you do not vote, it is effectively counted as a no vote. So, again, it is critical that everyone vote.
A strike vote does not mean a strike of health care members immediately after April 30. The Council hopes that a strong strike mandate will generate enough pressure to get a fair collective agreement. Please make sure you talk to your colleagues about the importance of voting to strike.
The NSGEU will email your strike vote package beginning April 23. Members will be provided with a PIN that will allow them to vote by telephone or online. The voting will take place between April 23 and April 30.
The NSGEU has sent information packages to all members by mail. If you or your colleagues have not received a package, it means we do not have a proper mailing address. Please call the NSGEU Labour Resource Centre at 902-424-4063 or toll free at 1-877-556-7438 in order to ensure you receive all future strike related mail outs.
You may also find the link to the information package here: http://nsgeu.ca/filemanager/
CUPE and Unifor are the other major partners with NSGEU in the Council of Health Care Unions. Both of those Unions have begun their strike vote campaigns and both reported this week that their memberships around Nova Scotia are also very supportive of a strike vote. There are approximately 6,900 health care members in the three unions involved in the strike vote. NSNU has a handful of members in the health care council.
In the meantime, your bargaining committee returned to the table for two-and-a-half days of bargaining this week. Progress continued at a very slow pace. We were unable to achieve any significant progress once again, however, it is clear that the call for a strike vote has caught the attention of the Employers and the provincial government. The Employers have propose several other bargaining dates beyond the three dates scheduled in early May.
Essential Services Update
The Council of Unions cannot strike without a completed essential services agreement. The Council referred all outstanding matters in the IWK essential services agreement to the Labour Board On March 27.
The IWK and NSGEU representatives then met for a week and were able to reach agreement for staffing levels across the entire IWK. (The NSGEU represents all health care members at the IWK so these staffing negotiations were led by the NSGEU and member Erik Hahn). This agreement mean that only 35 per cent of IWK employees in health care would be forced to remain at work in the event of a strike according to calculations prepared by the NSGEU.
This left only sections of the strike framework agreement unresolved. The strike framework agreement sets the rules under which a strike would operate including how scheduling is conducted and how disputes on staffing levels would be resolved. It will likely be exactly the same for the NSHA and all four bargaining units (nursing, administrative professional, support and health care). All unions have been closely involved in these negotiations.
The key areas that remained in dispute related to the specific functions that members who were deemed essential would have to perform when there is a strike and the Employers’ demand that the Unions tell them exactly when they were going on strike.
The Labour Board convened hearings on these issues April 12 and 13. The Labour Board has until May 1 to render a decision. That decision would conclude the essential services agreement for the IWK.
The NSHA essential services agreement will be forwarded to the Labour Board for resolution in the coming weeks.
If you have any questions, please contact a member of your bargaining committee below:
Donna Kline firstname.lastname@example.org
Allan Lapierre. email@example.com
Peter Perry firstname.lastname@example.org
Cindy Smith-MacDonald email@example.com
Adam Burgess firstname.lastname@example.org
Uta Berthold-Brush email@example.com
Shawn Fuller, Chief Negotiator firstname.lastname@example.org