The NB Council of Hospital Unions, CUPE 1252, which represents over 9,000 health care workers, received a major decision from the NB Labour and Employment Board concerning Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs).

In 2020, the Carpenters Union had applied to carve out over 2000 LPNs from CUPE 1252. Elizabeth MacPherson, Vice-Chairperson of the NB Labour and Employment Board, wrote the decision which ruled against the carve out. The Board came to this conclusion after an in-depth examination of both parties’ evidence, submissions, testimonials and witnesses.

Macpherson concluded that the fragmentation of the Patient Services unit was not appropriate, notably because it would have a detrimental effect on the bargaining power of LPNs. As 85% of LPNS are designated as essential and cannot go on strike, the resulting unit would have little if any power to bargain with the employer. To this, she added the following: “Without the power of the collective, LPN concerns would receive even less attention than at present and options for dealing with issues such as accommodations would be reduced,”

Macpherson agreed with both parties that the LPNs’ professional scope of practice has significantly evolved and increased since the 1970s. However, this did not mean they no longer share a “community of interest” with the other occupations in the Patient Services bargaining unit.

While the Board heard how LPNs are rightfully frustrated by the slow process of the JAQ / job evaluation process, the delays were not CUPE 1252’s doing. “The Board said that the process is bilateral. This means the employer has to do its share so the process can work,” said Norma Robinson, President of CUPE 1252.

CUPE 1252 agrees that the important work done by LPNs and of all healthcare workers deserves better recognition from their employer.

“The Board’s ruling comes at the right time. Solidarity is essential so healthcare workers can take on NB’s Premier Blaine Higgs, who wants to impose a wage freeze on all of us,” said Robinson.

“United, we can push back the unjust wage mandate. United, we must get government to fix the outrageous recruitment and retention crisis in care. United, we will act to stop violence in the workplace and improve the lives of workers,” concluded Robinson.