Update: June 7, 2022

FAQ from the bargaining table 

Distribution: CSSBA members  

Your bargaining committee has been hard at work at the negotiations table with the  employers’ association ensuring that your priorities are heard. We are taking a break  from negotiations and have scheduled our next round of talks for the week of June 20th.   

We wanted to share a few key updates with you about the bargaining process and  answer a few frequently asked questions. 

What is the Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA), and  the Community Social Services Employers Association (CSSEA)? The Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA) represents unionized  workers in the community social services sector, and the Community Social Services  Employers Association (CSSEA) represents the employers. 

The CSSBA Negotiating Committee is the bargaining committee and is made up of  union members and representatives of nine unions. The negotiating committee is  tasked with negotiating new terms of a collective agreement for over 17,000 unionized  community social services workers employed in every community across the province.  The CSSBA Negotiating Committee sits across the table with the CSSEA bargaining  committee, which represents over 200 community social services employers across the  province. 

Who is covered by the CSS Main Agreement? 

Within the community social services sector, there are three subsectors – Indigenous  Services, General Services and Community Living Services. Improvements to all three  collective agreements are negotiated at the main Community Social Services bargaining  table. Workers that are covered under the Indigenous Services agreement have unique  and specific concerns and needs. In recognition of this, negotiations for the Indigenous  Services agreement are underway at a separate and concurrent bargaining table as the  main Community Social Services bargaining table. 

The collective agreements for all three subsectors expired on March 31st, 2022. Terms  and conditions of the agreements continue until new agreements are ratified.  Bargaining commenced in February. 

What is happening right now at the bargaining table? 

The CSSBA Negotiating Committee and the CSSEA bargaining committee recently  started to discuss monetary priorities. These are items that have a dollar value and are  costed against a “total compensation envelope” that has been approved by the BC  Government and presented to the CSSBA Negotiating Committee by the CSSEA  bargaining committee. We are working hard to make gains at the table. The CSSBA  Negotiating Committee has a difficult task ahead to achieve a tentative deal that  the majority of the 17,000 in the province will ratify. 

Bargaining is ongoing and we are back at the table the week of June 20th.   

What are ‘essential services’? 

Everyone’s job is important. But under the Labour Code, some jobs can be designated  as ‘essential’. Deciding which jobs are designated essential is a standard part of the bargaining  process. It’s done through negotiations between union representatives and employer  representatives. 

Section 72(2) of the Labour Relations Code defines essential services as “facilities,  productions and services” that are “necessary or essential to prevent  immediate and serious danger to the health, safety or welfare of the residents  of British Columbia.” It is important to understand that essential services negotiated  under the Labour Relations Code for the purposes of job action are not the same as the  essential services designated during the COVID-19 pandemic for temporary pandemic  pay. 

For our bargaining process, essential services negotiations will start soon.   

Should I help my employer with setting essential services levels right now? No. There is an established process and timeline in place for determining essential  services. 

The first step in the process is for the employers to provide the union(s) with their  proposed essential services levels for the community social services sector. The union  will then be in a position to decide which ones we agree with, and which ones we will  challenge. The unions should not work with employers to set essential services levels  at this time. 

There is a provincial CSSBA Essential Services committee with representatives from  each union who will coordinate essential services negotiations for their union.   

The CSSBA Essential Services committee are as follows: 
BCGEU – Shelly Appleton and Deb Wilson 
CUPE – Michael Reed 
HEU – Robbin Knox and Christina Lloyd Jones 
HSA – Colin Brehaut 
CSWU – Shelley Moore 
CLAC – Aleasha Wegner 
USW – Marty Gibbons 
BCNU – Carolin Bleich and David Ling 

The committee will assist with the coordination of essential services on behalf of the  bargaining association with CSSEA’s essential services coordinating committee. 

Each union representative on the CSSBA Essential Services committee will receive the  employers’ proposals on essential service levels. They will then coordinate with and  distribute to the local union representatives. Members should not engage with their  employers on essential services levels at their worksites.

This provincial essential services committee reports to the Lead Negotiator of the  CSSBA Negotiating Committee and they will ensure that CSSBA Negotiating Committee  remains informed and up to date on the progress of essential services negotiations. 

I have heard that we are taking a strike vote, is this true? 

No. Right now, there are other union members from other public sector bargaining  tables are at a different stage in their bargaining process and are taking a strike vote. The CSSBA Negotiating Committee representing members covered under the  Community Social Services collective agreements are still at the bargaining table and  have not called for a strike vote. Many of us work with other public sector workers, and  we may hear information about other public sector bargaining tables. It is important  that you stay informed about what is happening in community social services and that  you receive communications from your negotiating committee. 

Where are we in the process now? 

We are still at the negotiating table and continue to meet with representatives from the  employers’ association. The bargaining process begins and ends with you- your ideas  and your vote. We will continue to keep you informed every step of the way, which is  why it is so important that we have your up-to-date contact information including your  personal email and phone number, so make sure your shop steward or your union  local has your contact information.  

Please check with your coworkers to make sure they are also receiving these email  updates and share this bulletin with them. 

In solidarity, Your Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA) Negotiating  Committee


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