Potential job action would affect up to two million plan members of the benefits provider
BURNABY—The union representing some 560 workers for health benefits coverage provider Pacific Blue Cross (PBC) today served 72-hour strike notice, citing the employer’s unwillingness to bargain and deliver fair wage increases.“We only took action this morning after the employer attempted to remove 35 items from the table that we had bargained in good faith, and agreed to, after eight months of negotiations,” said CUPE 1816 president Beth Miller.
“We have sacrificed for PBC when times were tough, and over the past seven years have seen only a 4.5-per-cent wage increase. We took wage freezes from 2001 through 2003 when PBC was not doing well financially.”
Miller added that PBC has been in a surplus situation since 2003.
The union and employer will meet for an informal mediation session tomorrow at 9:30 am. Unless a deal is reached in the interim, job action will commence on Saturday (July 21) at 11:30 am. With job action, CUPE 1816 members would be acting on their 92.5-per-cent vote in favour of a strike, taken on April 24.
“Of course we’re eager to reach a fair settlement for our members,” added Miller. “But we are not willing to walk away from collective agreement language that was negotiated in good faith but which the employer is suddenly wanting to withdraw.”
PBC is a not-for-profit service organization. With its subsidiary, British Columbia Life & Casualty Company (BC Life), it provides health, dental, life and disability coverage for approximately two million members who work for education, municipal, health, governmental, credit union and other large and small employers. It also covers individual members throughout British Columbia.
CUPE 1816 members at PBC work in a broad range of classifications, from underwriters to benefit examiners, disability claim representatives, benefits administrators and call
Contact: Beth Miller, CUPE 1816 President: (778) 388-2792
Meena Cheema, CUPE Representative: (778) 888-4611
Dan Gawthrop, CUPE Communications: (604) 999-6132