BCSRT discussion on 2019 – 2022 Collective Agreement – Proposed Terms of Settlement

To all Respiratory Therapists in British Columbia,

On December 13th 2018 the Respiratory Therapy Leaders of British Columbia (RTLBC) and the British Columbia Society of Respiratory therapists (BCSRT) met with HSA President, Val Avery. We wanted to ask a few questions about the recent report detailing the proposed changes to the contract. Here is a quick summary of our questions and our understanding of Val’s responses:

Question: How was the current classification system built? What is it based on?

Response:

    Educational level, responsibilities and experience

Question: How were the professions recognized for reclassification at this time (as per the report released by HSA) chosen?

Response:

    All of the professions being reclassified at this time do not belong to a job family (ie Respiratory therapy belongs to a family that has Grade 1-6 based recognizing student pay, sole charge etc.). The first priority was to rectify this situation. The only fields being reclassified at this time that is an exception to this is Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy. These groups had been looking to be reclassified for about 10 years in regards to their Masters” entry level to practice” and the Bargaining committee decided to recognize this.

Question: Looking back at the Schedule A/B, 2 tier wage split imposed on us in 2001 in which 60% of the union received about a14% wage increase and 40% received a 5% wage increase (Respiratory Therapy fell into this group , why weren’t the “have nots” (Schedule B) the first professions considered for reclassification? This would have helped to rectify some of the wage inequities within the union.

Response:

    We have been trying to rectify the imposed two-tier wage split for 16 years and have been so far unsuccessful. There are a lot of inequities; we were not able to fix them all in this contract. We recognize that RT’s would like to be reclassified, however most diploma entry level to practice professions are Grade level 6. You are already at a Grade 7.

Question: Respiratory Therapy will not be able to move to degree “entry level to practice” any time soon. The government nationally has mandated that there will not be any more creep to “degree entry level to practice”. Would having a degree make us more eligible for reclassification?

Response:

    Not at this time, perhaps Respiratory Therapy can lobby for this outside of bargaining.

Question: We feel that we meet all of the criteria laid out by the joint Classification Redesign Committee (HSPBA Renewal of the 2019 – 2022 Provincial Agreement Proposed Terms of Settlement, page 80) to be considered for compensation and reclassification, in particular “address inequities within the current compensation and classification system” and “Address skills shortages, difficult-to-fill positions and recruitment and retention” (we are losing staff to Anesthesia Assistants and Perfusion, other provinces and communities out of the lower mainland)? What would you do if you were us?

Response:

    Val indicated that there are no plans at this time to use any of the current funds to reclassify Respiratory during the 3-year contract.

Response:

    There was no route available for respiratory to move from Schedule B to Schedule A.

Response:

    RT’s that fel that their classification does not reflect their job duties can put in individual grievances.

Response:

    RT’s can also work on recruitment strategies outside of Bargaining.

Val admitted that she had heard that some of the RT’s have approached BCNU in regards to changing unions. She wanted us to know that even if we moved unions, HSA would continue to bargain for us because we are classified as Health Science Professionals.

We ended the conversation at this time to come together as a group and decide on next steps. The group felt discouraged by Val’s responses.

The BCSRT and RTLBC decided to approach the BCSRT membership in regards to using funding from membership dues to attain a Labour and Employment lawyer to assist us. If you are a BCSRT member, you should have received an email regarding the vote.

The RTLBC and BCSRT are encouraging the RT’s in BC to vote no for the HSA proposed contract amendments. This recommendation was strongly endorsed by the RT leaders who have been able to attend the RTLBC/BCSRT meetings; there are some RTLBC members who have not been able to attend meetings and/or may support the HSA recommendations. Voting for the HSA contract ratification begins Jan 7th and runs throughout January.

Two other recommendations from the BCSRT include:

  1. Look at the proposed BCNU contract to compare to the HSA proposed contract.
  2. Join the BCSRT. Previously the HSA has told the BCSRT that since less than 50% of the respiratory therapists in BC are not BCSRT members, the BCSRT does not truly represent the voice of respiratory therapists in BC.

Thank you,

British Columbia Society of Respiratory Therapists (BCSRT)
Respiratory Therapy Leaders of British Columbia (RTLBC)