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HEU members at Miracle Valley, an independent residential drug and alcohol program in Mission run by the Salvation Army, ratified their first collective agreement by a resounding 91 per cent on August 7, 2002. More than 30 HEU members provide services for the 160 male residents at Miracle Valley as addiction counselors, attendants, cooks, clerks and drivers.

Negotiating the new contract required some restructuring of the wage schedule and classification system. For example, where before the addiction counselors were all slotted into one level, the bargaining committee was successful at negotiating three classifications that more accurately reflect different duties, responsibilities and qualifications.

The first year of the agreement establishes the new wage schedule with workers receiving percentage increases that range anywhere from 1.4 to 5.4 per cent.

“Typically, with a first collective agreement, the pay rates are all over the map,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “That’s why we see a such wide variation in the increases.”

In each of the two subsequent years there will be across-the-board increases of 35 cents per hour per year for all.

The benefit package has expanded to include those who work 15 hours or more regular hours per week (before they had to work 25 hours per week to qualify) and MSP for dependents.

Also in the contract are three days of special leave per year (at the discretion of employees), three days as well of compassionate leave per year, 11 statutory holidays (from 10) and strong occupational health and safety language.

“Congratulations to Miracle Valley’s HEU members on achieving their first collective agreement,” says Allnutt. “We know they will continue to serve the residents of Miracle Valley with dedication in an atmosphere of respect, dignity and fairness for all as the new contract sets out in its preamble.” The contract is retroactive to October 1, 2001 and expires on Sept. 30, 2004.