Nearly 600 members of the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) who work in communities across the province have voted to accept a renewed collective agreement with Community Living BC (CLBC) – the provincial crown agency that provides supports and services to adults with developmental disabilities.
The parties reached a tentative agreement on October 17. The workers, who had been without a contract since April 1, voted 89 per cent in favour of ratification at a meeting on November 25. The agreement takes effect immediately and expires March 31, 2022.
"This was a challenging round of negotiations, but we've achieved progress on key issues identified by our members," says Judy Fox-McGuire, vice president of the BCGEU's social, information and health component.
One of the key issues for members was the need for an understandable collective agreement. The previous agreement was an unpolished amalgamation of three agreements that was created in 2005 when the work of CLBC was removed from direct government. As a result, the agreement contained repetitive articles and outdated terminology that made it challenging for workers to use.
Another key issue for BCGEU members in this round of bargaining was addressing workload issues and recruitment and retention challenges for specific roles.
"As the demand for CLBC's services has increased, so have the demands on our members who work frontline supporting clients," says Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president. "I'm glad we've found common ground with the employer and achieved an agreement that balances the clients' need for access to care and our members' need for fair workload and compensation."
The three-year agreement also achieves parity with the main terms of the public service agreement, including a two per cent wage increase per year for the term of the agreement, and a one-time payment related to savings from the elimination of MSP premiums.
The BCGEU represents most employees at CLBC including social workers, facilitators, analysts, and administrative workers. CLBC receives funding from the provincial government to provide services to more than 20,000 individuals with significant demands for support and services.
The BCGEU is one of the largest and fastest growing unions in B.C. with more than 79,000 members working in almost every community and economic sector in the province.