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Workers joining union help keep child care centre open - BCGEU

Workers joining union help keep child care centre open
DTES daycare to stay open at least until November 

(Vancouver) After workers at the Phil Bouvier Child and Family Center in Strathcona voted 95% in favour of joining the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU), the employer, who had previously threatened to close the daycare, agreed to a settlement which would keep the centre open for four more months.

After the union brought an unfair labour practice application to the BC Labour Relations Board (LRB), the Vancouver Native Health Society (VNHS), who runs the centre, agreed, on the eve of hearing, to keep the daycare open.

The Phil Bouvier Child and Family Centre is in the heart of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and serves a number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous families and children.

"The employees at the Phil Bouvier Centre came to the BCGEU because we have an excellent track record for representing community social service professionals, including child care workers, and we are glad they did," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.

"Our newest members care deeply about the children, families and community they serve and by joining the BCGEU they were able to apply collective pressure to help keep this unique and vitally important child care centre open."

The day after workers applied to join the union in late May, VNHS notified its staff, and the families using their services, that they intended to close the daycare. BCGEU filed a complaint with the LRB, on behalf of the workers, arguing that the closure was an attempt by VNHS to deny these workers their right to unionize. BCGEU asked for a "freeze period" that would allow the workers a chance to vote on joining the union and negotiate a collective agreement.

The LRB scheduled a hearing for June 9 -13, 2018. On the first day scheduled for hearing, VNHS settled the case by agreeing that it would keep the daycare open and not reduce any hours of operation until at least November 10, 2018.

"We understand the City of Vancouver has issued a grant to help the centre stay open for the short-term and we'll be urging them, and other levels of government, to commit to long-term funding that will keep these important services in the community," said Smith.

BCGEU members at the centre will now begin the process of negotiating a collective agreement with their employer.

"In the coming months we will be working with our newest members to negotiate a strong first collective agreement with the Vancouver Native Health Society to improve working conditions and job security. We will also continue working with the VNHS and other community stakeholders to keep the centre open," said Smith.

The BCGEU represents over 77,000 members across the province including thousands of members in child care and community social services.