(Halifax) – Two of the province’s largest health care unions are preparing a complaint against the District Health Authorities (DHA’s) with the Labour Relations Board.
CUPE and the CAW, who, collectively, represent 5,500 hospital workers in every DHA, say the employers are communicating directly with members of each union while bargaining is underway, in a way that contravenes the Labour Relations Act.
The unions say a memo went out to all CUPE and CAW members in at least two of the DHA’s via the hospitals’ internet system, advocating significant changes in how the unions bargain their acute care collective agreements. They say the action not only undermines the bargaining process, it interferes in the administration of a trade union.
CUPE Acute Care Co-ordinator Wayne Thomas says, “This attempt to circumvent the legal bargaining agents does not bode well for the outcome of this round of bargaining.
“Bargaining has barely begun and already the employers are trying to divide our membership and point them in a particular direction.”
At issue is a request from the employers to depart from the bargaining structure of the last 11 years, which saw all three bargaining units of hospital workers – health care, service and clerical – bargain at one table. The DHA’s want to separate the health care groups from the service and clerical groups.
CAW National Representative Susan Burrows says, “This is divisive and regressive.
We have tried to explain to them that this approach will make a strike in the hospital sector even more of a possibility. They will not succeed in dividing our membership.”