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All Laboratory Technical Assistants at LifeLabs (Local 403) - Temporary Laboratory Technician Positions - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

Over the last three weeks, LifeLabs has engaged your Joint Labour Management Committee (JLMC) in discussions around the creation of a new classification to assist with pre and post analytical duties in some Analytical Departments in response to a severe shortfall in recruiting MLTs.

The initial proposal would have seen three positions titled Laboratory Technician be posted for high-volume chemistry (HVC) at BRL in Vancouver only. LifeLabs identified 9 unfilled Medical Laboratory Technologists (MLT) positions in that department and the intent of this new classification would be to offload some of the responsibilities that are not necessarily required to be performed by a technologist to alleviate that shortage. The employer provided us with a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a list of core duties that would be associated with this position.

Upon looking at the core duties it was our belief that we had a number of Laboratory Technical Assistants (LTAs) that were already performing much of this work, if not all. We reached out to some of you for information about the work that you do, and you provided us with very detailed responses which enabled us to negotiate an additional 4 positions for a total of 7 Laboratory Technicians (LT). This more than doubled the positions of the original proposal and will hopefully reflect the work we believe you are already performing.

Of particular note, this is a pilot with a duration of 12 months with an option to extend after discussions with our Union. In addition, there is agreement between the parties to review this process every 30 days. Of particular concern to us was the educational requirement for this position - a science related degree at the Bachelor level or an internationally trained MLT. LifeLabs was unwilling to consider an equivalent combination of training, skills and experience.

The employer has indicated these jobs will be posted as early as possible and we would like to encourage anyone who has been doing this work to apply for these positions if you are interested regardless of whether you meet these qualifications. The postings will go up internally and externally concurrently and in the event that they don't receive enough applications, our hope is that then they would look at the people that have been doing this work for the last several years in order to fill these positions.

We want LifeLabs to see the value that LTAs have been providing in this role for so many years already, and to do that we need your help. LifeLabs has agreed to provide clear communication to LTAs that they are no longer to be performing the work duties that are now listed as those of the LT. This means your supervisors will not be scheduling you to do these duties; and if they are, we need to be notified about it immediately and will advise you on next steps. In the event that you are asked to do this work by your supervisor or manager, please do not refuse the work or you may be at risk of discipline.

Your JLMC wants LifeLabs to clearly see the contribution you have already been making so that we can ensure that all your hard work gets recognized and compensated properly. The evolution of this new classification is a good opportunity for professional development for many of our LTAs.

It is important that we work together with the employer on this right now with the hope of demonstrating the need for more of these positions.

There will be some bumps along the way, but rest assured that we see you and we recognize your contribution to the patients you serve and the expertise you bring to your jobs every day. Our sincere hope is that LifeLabs will do the same.

As always, if you have any questions or contributions to this discussion, please contact the Joint Labour Management Committee Members for your area as listed below. We will be compiling a list of the questions and will respond with an FAQ style of communication. We want to keep everyone well informed as we move ahead together.

In solidarity,

Your Joint Labour Management Committee Representatives

Mandy De Fields – Bargaining Unit Chairperson (Local 401/402)

Maryam Baghalha – Bargaining Committee Member (Local 403)

Rosario Viray – Bargaining Committee Member (Local 404)

Wendy Cummer – Bargaining Committee Member (Local 405)

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