July 25, 2017 

Resolution Puts Seven PBC Board Members on Notice

A special resolution calling for the removal of the seven Pacific Blue Cross Board members not up for re-election at the September 7 AGM has been signed by CUPE 1004 brother and PBC member Andrew Healey and was submitted yesterday to Pacific Blue Cross Society, your negotiating committee has confirmed.

The resolution, which singles out PBC Board members Malcolm Williamson, Mark Schonfeld, Richard Taylor, John Fitzpatrick, Colleen Jordan, Mary LaPlante and Robert Wallis, was sent by express post to both the Society’s mail and street addresses, as well as by fax. The other seven positions will be up for re-election due to their terms expiring. The resolution in detail is attached.

In other recent news:

  • On July 13, Vice President Rob Chiarello, in a letter attached to employee pay stubs, claimed that PBC’s most recent proposal on July 7 “would have no changes to retiree health benefits.” In fact, the proposal would have relieved the Employer from fulfilling its promise to provide specific benefits in retirement to our members. It would have shifted all risk for retiree benefits on to the backs of retirees, while eliminating any guarantee of the level of benefits to be provided in retirement. The Employer’s proposal included deleting all language regarding retiree benefits from the collective agreement.
  • On the bargaining front: The Union is prepared to bargain with the Employer at any time, however in the absence of any change in the Employer’s position, there is very little left to discuss in bargaining. The Employer has not contacted the union regarding new bargaining dates since July 7.
  • The Union’s Unfair Labour Practice complaint regarding the use of illegal replacement workers will continue to be heard in LRB sessions this week. We hope for a decision soon.

ON THE PICKET LINE—It has been more than two weeks since this lockout began. We want to express our thanks and appreciation to the strike committee for all their hard work to make our picket lines the great success they’ve been. We have been inspired by the resolve of our members since the lockout began on July 7.  We are also overwhelmed by all the support we’ve received from the labour movement over the past several weeks. The fight against concessions to post-retirement benefits is not our fight alone, and the support we are receiving from other workers on the picket line demonstrates that.


Bargaining Update #6: Escalating Job Action

BURNABY — The CUPE 1816 Negotiating Committee was scheduled to bargain with the Employer on
Friday, May 26 and Sunday, May 28. We did meet on Friday and put forward our proposal. After
looking over our proposal the Employer came back and told us they would not be doing a counterproposal
nor would they be bargaining with us on Sunday.

The Employer told us they will “weather whatever storm comes their way.” The Negotiating
Committee is extremely disappointed. We are truly at a loss to explain the Employer’s unwillingness to
bargain with us. We made a specific request to have Jan join us at the bargaining table, but we were
told that he is unavailable. We really can’t explain why the Employer views this labour dispute as such
a low priority and why they are being so dismissive of our attempts to reach a fair Collective

The Employer is now refusing to pay for our MSP, Dental, and Extended Health premiums despite the
fact we have not staged a full walk out. We have held numerous study sessions — for which we have
been paylossed — but we continue to provide work. The Employer doesn’t seem to value this
contribution and is going to start charging us 50% of the premiums from May 29-31 and then make us
pay 100% beginning June 1. Thankfully, CUPE National has agreed to pay our premiums so no one is
going to be directly affected by this reprehensible move on the part of Employer.

We met with our Strike Committee on May 29 and have empowered them to begin preparations for
further job action. The Strike Committee will be handing out surveys and communications so you will
get to know them and your Strike Captains very shortly.

In the meantime, please follow us on Twitter and join our Facebook page as we plan to connect with
you more on social media.

Your CUPE 1816 Negotiating Committee:
• Beth Miller
• Roger Pearce
• Anna Torgerson
• Tracey Harston
• Christine Johnson
• James Richardson — CUPE National Representative

Bargaining Update #5: Time for Job Action!

On May 9, 2017 the Negotiating Committee mediated with the Employer and their legal counsel at the Labour Board. The Union was faced with two options — to either negotiate essential services or schedule a future trial date that would further delay job action.

You have been very vocal about the fact that you don’t want any further delays and we heard you loud and clear. We understand and share your frustration with the length of time it is taking to reach a fair Collective Agreement.

As a result, we decided to negotiate the essential services which allowed the Union to serve 72-hour strike notice and advise the Employer we would be commencing job action this weekend. We also informed the Employer that there will be no further bargaining dates until the concessions are off the table. The Employer initially wanted 36 positions to be designated as essential, but we agreed to the following: 

  • 12 Disability Adjudication Specialists (DAS) 
  • 12 Disability Case Management Specialists (DCMS) 
  • 1 Supervisor

This understanding was made on a without prejudice basis which means that it does not establish BC Life as an essential service in future disputes.


May 13
Overtime Ban
Members are prohibited from working overtime

May 15
Five-day workweek = 7.00-hour days
Four-day workweek = 8.75-hour days

We want to thank you again for your dedication and support during this time.

Your CUPE 1816 Negotiating Committee:

  • Beth Miller
  • Roger Pearce
  • Anna Torgerson
  • Tracey Harston
  • Christine Johnson
  • James Richardson — CUPE National Representative

Be sure to check out our new Twitter account @cupe1816 for updates and the latest news.

Bargaining Update #4: Solidarity in action!

Thank you once again for your extraordinary show of solidarity and support, our 98% strike vote strengthened our position at the bargaining table.

With this strong mandate, the CUPE 1816 Negotiating Committee met with the Employer on April 18 and 19. We have not yet reached an agreement, however, we are making ourselves available for bargaining on evenings and weekends as we recognize the importance of ratifying our Collective Agreement.

Confirmed dates for future talks are: 

  • May 9 
  • May 16 
  • May 17 
  • June 7 
  • June 8

The Employer has made an application to the Labour Board to make some of the job duties in BC Life an essential service. The Union and the Employer will be bargaining this issue. If we are unable to resolve this matter we will go to the Labour Board to mediate. Once the outcome is determined, we will be in a legal position to serve 72-hour strike notice.

We will continue to keep you updated regarding the essential service status and possible job action as things progress.

Your Negotiating Committee:
• Beth Miller
• Roger Pearce
• Anna Torgerson
• Tracey Harston
• Christine Johnson
• James Richardson — National CUPE Representative

Bargaining Update #3: Concessions Still on the Table, Union Sets Date for Strike Vote

While there has been some movement off its original concessionary plan, the Employer has returned to the bargaining table with outstanding concessions on Extended Health, Paramedicals, Vision, and Retiree benefits — prompting your Union to schedule a strike vote at the next Membership meeting.

CUPE 1816 agreed to new bargaining dates of March 24 and 27 when the Employer indicated Pacific Blue Cross had some “creative” solutions to the contract impasse. However, in the framework for settlement the Employer tabled on Monday, the key concessions were still in the package.

“After several months of waiting to see a reasonable and equitable settlement proposal, we are disappointed the Employer continues to expect us to give up what we have already bargained for current and future employees,” said CUPE 1816 President Beth Miller.

“The Negotiating Committee feels it has been more than patient in trying to reach solutions on the financials, but our members have become very concerned about the erosion of benefits this package represents.”

In addition to the concessions, said Miller, the Employer’s framework calls for no general wage increases for the first two years of the agreement. Subsequent increases of 1.5 and 1.5 (to be implemented on August 1, 2018 and 2019, respectively) are below the rate of inflation.

No future bargaining dates have been scheduled.

CUPE 1816 has scheduled an April 12 Membership meeting (in lieu of April 11) to provide an update on bargaining and to conduct a strike vote.


DATE: April 12
TIME: 5:00 pm – doors open at 4:15
The International Union of Operating Engineers Hall
4333 Ledger Avenue
Burnaby BC

Children are welcome. We are counting on your support!!

Your Negotiating Committee
Beth Miller, Roger Pearce, Tracey Harston, Anna Torgerson

Bargaining Update #2: No Employer Reaction to Union Members’ Demand to Take Retiree Benefit Concessions off the Table

After receiving the first bargaining update on November 21, over half of our members signed a petition requesting a special membership meeting to discuss the breakdown in talks. We met on December 7, and a motion was made from the floor for the Negotiating Committee to refuse to meet with the employer until they take retiree benefit concessions off the table. This resolution was passed unanimously!

We made the employer aware of this resolution, but we regret to inform you that we have had zero response from the employer on this or any other bargaining updates. The Negotiating Committee would like nothing better than to negotiate with the employer, but it seems that they don’t have the desire to bargain.

At this time, we have no further scheduled bargaining dates, but we hope that the new year brings us closer to making a fair deal. We will keep you updated when we have more information to share.

We want to thank you again for your support during this challenging time.

Your CUPE 1816 Negotiating Committee:

• Beth Miller
• Roger Pearce
• Anna Torgerson
• Tracey Harston
• Christine Johnson
• James Richardson — CUPE National Representative

Bargaining Update #1: PBC Demands Major Concessions for Retiree and Regular Benefits

BURNABY — Bargaining talks with Pacific Blue Cross have broken down due to the employer’s demand to completely eliminate its contribution to benefits for retirees. The employer’s proposal also calls for a number of significant concessions in the Extended Health and Dental plans for active employees while offering no general wage increases in the first two years of a five-year agreement.

The CUPE 1816 Negotiating Committee met with PBC only three times before the employer filed abruptly for mediation.

“The employer’s five-year proposal, which includes two years of zeroes on wages, also seeks to punish retirees by taking away benefits that are already accounted for in the employer’s financial statements and are completely affordable,” says CUPE 1816 President Beth Miller.

“We have been clear with the employer at mediation that we have no interest in any changes to the retiree benefits plan. We agreed to concessions in that area in 2007 and the employer has come back looking for more before a single person has even retired under that revised plan.”

Since retaining its own actuary, CUPE 1816 has determined that the retiree benefits plan is accounted for in the overall financial health of the organization. PBC’s retained earnings at the end of last year were $183.5 million. All costs that have accrued for active and retired employees, including managers, are fully account for in PBC’s 2015 financial statements.

PBC’s proposal on retiree benefits calls for the plan to go from 75-per-cent employer funded to 100- per-cent retiree funded. The initial proposal received on September 21 included eliminating the employer contributions for those who have already retired. Not only does the Union believe this to be utterly unfair; it is also illegal since those benefits vested at the time of retirement.

“The only change in the employer’s position on retiree benefits after three bargaining session and two days of mediation is their agreement not to break the law by taking away vested benefits from current retirees,” says Miller. “Otherwise, the last proposal we saw in mediation on November 17 looked almost identical to the one we saw on September 21.”

No future bargaining dates have been scheduled.

Your CUPE 1816 Negotiating Committee:

  • Beth Miller
  • Roger Pearce
  • Anna Torgerson
  • Tracey Harston
  • Christine Johnson
  • James Richardson — CUPE National Representative