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Bargaining structure to undergo change
Community social services negotiations have been held up while unions and employers await the passage of legislation that will change the sector’s current bargaining structure.

In the meantime, the four largest unions representing workers in this sector - the HEU, the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Health Sciences Association - have received a full briefing on the new legislation which is expected to require all unions in the sector to merge into a single association.

At the same time, legislation is also expected this spring that will change the designation for required membership in the Community Social Services Employer’s Association (CSSEA) to agencies with a minimum $250,000 annual budget, 50% of which must come from provincial funding. This backward step will remove a number of community social service locals from the province-wide contract.

In preparation for bargaining, the four unions have been meeting jointly to draft the terms of association that will be required to establish the new structure. It is anticipated the association will operate in a manner similar to what currently exists in the health care sector.

Although collective agreements expired March 31, they remain in full force and effect until a new agreement is reached. Members are encouraged to diligently enforce their collective agreement rights during this time and in preparation for bargaining to network with other unions, create phone trees and keep an ear to the ground regarding restructuring plans within their workplaces.