Every January the Canadian Labour Congress kicks off the 5-week Winter School program at Harrison…
CEU is Forty-Eight!
CEU Marks 48th Anniversary
Forty-Eight years ago, our journey began when the Compensation Employees’ Union was certified as a Union. It was started with 730 people and has grown to over 2900 members. Since the beginning, we have stayed grounded in our Mission to improve the lives of WSBC union members and to stay true to our Values: Equity, Respect, Compassion, and Integrity.
Over the years the CEU has bargained for workplace improvements, better benefits, and worker rights, all which you helped shape by participating in the bargaining survey. The priority issues identified in the 2022 bargaining survey will structure the bargaining proposals the CEU Negotiation Committee is preparing to present at the bargaining table this year.
The last 18 months have certainly brought unprecedented challenges in our society – with a historic global pandemic, extreme weather events, and racial and social injustice as a few examples of what we’re navigating together.
We have also faced unprecedented challenges in our workplace. In fact, for most of us, our workplace has moved to our home. COVID claims came in waves, adding to longstanding workload issues in many areas.
As your Union, we have been active at every level, drawing attention to this ongoing issue. Kristy and I have met with the Labour Minister, Hon. Harry Bains, about workload challenges; CEU has asked for and received support from our affiliates including those at the BC Federation of Labour and BCGEU. I lobbied at the BC legislature with the BC Federation of Labour for improvements to WCB that include government committing to investing more in WCB, like the staffing required to deliver services needed throughout BC. We have spoken to Anne Naser directly about workload concerns, WCB BOD, and anyone who listens in our Joint Workload Committee meetings.
The helpful piece is that we did get some workload language for the very first time in our last round of bargaining in 2019, LOU B28 “Joint Workload Committee”, and that has allowed us to make some progress in the background. While it’s been well established in labour law that the employer can manage the workplace as they see fit (as long as you aren’t at risk of danger etc.), the collective agreement adds extra protections and provides rules we have agreed to with the employer, as you know. The LOU states that “in order to address workload issues or concerns, the Parties agree that an understanding of the objective factors contributing to workload, including capacity and the unique demands and complexities of the various jobs and duties is necessary.” This involved the employer developing a tool that doesn’t see a claim as simply one claim but instead looks at a wide range of factors to assess the claims complexity level. This data gave a much wider picture in the Vocational Rehabilitation world and that much wider picture led to a business case to hire more VR’s last year.
We heard from you loud and clear on the bargaining survey and know that this round of bargaining we need to again improve language around workload. We have been consistently telling the board to hire more people year after year. While it is good to see the number of postings going up recently and presently and hearing future hiring plans, most people I talk to won’t believe relief is real until they feel it in their world in real time – it’s been too long. I also know that workload issues are in many areas other than with VR’s but the initial focus of the workload committee was to start with Case Managers and VR’s.
We hope to again strengthen this language further in our next round of bargaining. We really are trying to connect and get our workload message across to people we think might listen and may have a role in improving the lives of our members around this topic – We are continuing this fight even when you don’t see us doing it.
Through all of this, you have remained resilient and managed these challenges with grace. For that, and so much more, I am thankful for you and your work ethic. The CEU wouldn’t be what it is today without such committed members, which make me even more committed to serving you in the best way I can as CEU President.
On our anniversary of becoming certified as a Union, we must also acknowledge that our success – past, present, and future – is built on our affiliation with the BCGEU, our active participation with the BC Federation of Labour and other labour organizations like NUPGE. Partnering with our sister organizations amplifies the CEU voice at the larger bargaining tables and provides the opportunity to work together for labour rights here at home and around the world.
On Monday, May 23rd, as you enjoy the day off from work, take a moment to reflect on the importance of unions and the work they do for all workers. Without the commitment of the greater labour movement many of the benefits and statutory holidays we enjoy today would not be possible.
In closing, I’d like to wish you all Happy Anniversary on behalf of the entire Executive and CEU staff. We wouldn’t be the Union we are today with out you.
In Solidarity, Laura
Laura Snow, CEU President