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Protecting members: responding to employers demand for consolidations in six Lower Mainland service areas

Consolidations:  an overview

Last spring, Lower Mainland health employers issued a notice to HSA members working in diagnostic imaging: services throughout the Lower Mainland would be consolidated region-wide. The employers said their objective was to reduce the diagnostic imaging budget by 10 per cent.

Employers have since announced plans to consolidate five other service areas, with the aim of cutting up to 10 per cent out of an already lean system.

The targeted areas are:

  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Laboratory
  • Health information management
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Pharmacy
  • Information management and information technology services

Protecting members through this process is a top priority for the union.

-Our objective is to mitigate the negative impacts of the employers consolidation plans," said HSA President Reid Johnson.

-The health professionals we represent are already struggling to cope with unreasonable workloads. This is a result of understaffing. Employers have been telling us for years that recruitment and retention are serious problems for highly trained professionals," he said.

-Cutting 10 per cent out of a system that is already under-resourced is a serious concern. Its a concern for all patients in the Lower Mainland."

-This fall, the union successfully negotiated a consolidation plan for diagnostic imaging; the deal minimizes the impact on diagnostic imaging professionals. But the whole process has been disruptive to members ... and the employer has admitted that despite the anxiety and disruption this has caused, they will recoup nowhere near the 10 per cent target for budget savings."

HSA has established committees to review and investigate the implications of the plans, including examining impacts on services and jobs. As well, any committees will advocate for consolidation plans to afford equal access to vacancies and advancement.

Whats a -Section 54" notice?

Under Section 54 of BCs labour statute, the employer is obligated to inform the union of any intention to introduce changes affecting a significant number of employees.

Section 54 states: -If an employer introduces or intends to introduce a measure, policy, practice or change that affects the terms, conditions or security of employment of a significant number of employees to whom a collective agreement applies...the employer must give notice to the trade union that is party to the collective agreement at least 60 days before the date on which the measure, policy, practice or change is to be effected."

What does -dovetailing" mean for seniority?

Unions make every attempt to protect members ... especially in circumstances involving possible displacement and/or layoff. -Dovetailing" means expanding the seniority rights of employees. This provides increased employment protection for workers.
 
Keep your contact information up to date

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Diagnostic Imaging

Status:

  • Section 54 notice served April 15, 2010; consolidation agreement reached in fall of 2010
  • HSA members informed through bulletins, consulted through series of member meetings
  • Although the employer eliminated 40 positions, all members displaced from their positions were successfully placed into available vacancies. The process combined freezing vacancies, voluntary departure incentives, new positions created by the consolidation, new vacancies (such as the Surrey outpatient clinic), and vacancies through normal attrition held over the past year. The principle of priority placement for affected staff was used to minimize impacts; no members were bumped in the process.
  • Supervisors applied to and were awarded vacancies and have recently been placed into their new positions.
  • Transfer of personnel to Vancouver Coastal Health will occur by or on May 13, 2011.
  • If you currently work for a health authority outside of Vancouver Coastal, you are invited to apply to diagnostic imaging postings falling under the Lower Mainland consolidated service and be considered internal. Because of current system limitations, you will appear to be applying as an external applicant, but your application will be processed manually as an internal application. 

Representatives on HSAs diagnostic imaging consolidation committee:

  • Kimball Finigan, radiation therapist, BC Cancer Agency ... Vancouver Cancer Centre
  • Dan Parent, biomedical engineering technologist, Vancouver General Hospital
  • Anita Bardal, medical radiation technologist, St. Pauls Hospital
  • Cheryl Greenhalgh, medical radiation technologist, Royal Columbian Hospital
  • Harp Senghera, medical radiation technologist, Abbotsford Regional Hospital
  • Dani Demetlika, HSA Senior Labour Relations Officer ddemetlika@hsabc.org

Health information management

Status:

  • Section 54 notice served Jan 10, 2011; negotiations in progress.
  • HSA is committed to advocating on behalf of health records administrators; the union is working to reduce the impact of the employers consolidation plans.
  • Union has met with Providence three times since January 2011 to negotiate a labour adjustment agreement. As of March 2011, three more meetings are scheduled.
  • HSA is concerned that the information provided so far by the employer does not provide enough detail to outline the level of change being proposed.
  • Employer proposes to eliminate supervisory positions, and re-create them as non-union, excluded coordinators.
  • Employer proposes a reduction of the role of health records administrators in work referred to as -release of information" -- contrary to the advice of the Canadian College of Health Information Management regarding requirements to protect privacy of heath records.

Representatives on HSAs health information management consolidation committee:

  • Rav Dhillon, Health Information Management, Richmond General Hospital, Vancouver Coastal Health
  • Karen Hatchwell, Health Information Management, Surrey Memorial Hospital, Fraser Health
  • Lori Pringle, Health Information Management, St. Pauls Hospital, Providence
  • Shelley Scott, Health Information Management, BC Cancer Agency ... Vancouver Cancer Centre, Provincial Health Services
  • Sally Mastrantonio, Health Information Management, Lions Gate Hospital, VCHA, alternate
  • Dani Demetlika, HSA Senior Labour Relations Officer: ddemetlika@hsabc.org
  • Derek Wong, HSA Senior Labour Relations Officer, Classifications: dwong@hsabc.org

Pharmacy

Status:

  • Section 54 notice served; negotiations in progress
  • HSA is committed to advocating on behalf of pharmacists; the union is working to reduce the impact of the employers consolidation plans.
  • At the end of March 2011, the union and the employer agreed to resume negotiations on a consolidated Lower Mainland pharmacy service and labour adjustment plan.
  • The employers plan continues to be a pharmacy model featuring both a clinical stream and a distribution stream at larger facilities.
  • The labour adjustment plan is expected to include employment transfer of all Lower Mainland pharmacists to a single employer with a single consolidated seniority list.
  • No lay-offs are anticipated to occur (Note: -lay-off" is different from a -displacement" from a currently-held position).
  • Once the employer has shared the consolidation plan, the union committee begins reviewing the employers plan in early April.
  • The union will soon be consulting with HSA pharmacists across the Lower Mainland.
  • The union and employer aim to conclude an agreement soon, as the process has been ongoing for almost two years.
  • The union will meet with the employer again on in the coming days.

Representatives on HSAs pharmacy consolidation committee:

  • Tory Kim, pharmacist, Surrey Memorial Hospital
  • Jerry Casanova, pharmacist, Langley Memorial Hospital
  • Terri Betts, pharmacist, Lions Gate Hospital
  • Nick Torok, pharmacist, St. Pauls Hospital
  • Faith Uchida, pharmacist, Vancouver General Hospital
  • Kathleen Collin, pharmacist, BC Childrens Hospital
  • Dave Martin, HSA Senior Labour Relations Officer: dmartin@hsabc.org

Biomedical engineering

Status:

  • Section 54 notice not served; preparing for negotiations.
  • The employers consolidation initiatives in biomedical engineering were brought to HSAs attention in November 2009. Despite numerous requests for meetings, the employer has not yet invited HSA to meet.
  • In January 2010, the employer gave a powerpoint presentation to biomedical engineering technologists with an overview of their vision, but provided no specifics.
  • The employer has not presented to the union any plans for biomedical engineering consolidation. However, the employer has distributed a -strategic operation plan" and a -staff update" to BMETs in early March.
  • Savings in biomedical engineering can be realized by ending corporate equipment servicing contracts; this may result in a net gain of HSA BMETs, as BMETs must be trained to take on the work currently provided through these expensive private contracts.
  • The employer has made changes to geographic coverage for call-back.
  • The employer has made no indications that there will be layoffs as a result of biomedical engineering consolidation.

Representatives on HSAs biomedical engineering consolidation committee:

  • Dave Noga, biomedical engineering technologist, St. Pauls Hospital / Providence Health
  • Ron Fyffe, biomedical engineering technologist, Vancouver General Hospital / Vancouver Coastal Health
  • Britt Parish, senior biomedical engineering technologist, BC Childrens Hospital / Provincial Health Services Authority
  • Paul Kuwabara, senior biomedical engineering technologist, Surrey Memorial Hospital / Fraser Health Authority
  • Kathy McLennan, HSA Membership Services Coordinator: kmclennan@hsabc.org
  • Maureen Ashfield, HSA Senior Labour Relations Officer: mashfield@hsabc.org

Laboratory

Status:

  • Section 54 notice not served.
  • Employer has met with HSA to describe overall objectives, which were in line with general objectives of consolidations: target to cut approximately 10% of lab budget.
  • Are you a laboratory technologist in the Lower Mainland? Please let us know if you are interested in participating on the unions lab consolidation committee. Email ehilland@hsabc.org
    .

Information management and information technology services

Status:

  • Employer proposes to serve Section 54 notice April 24; negotiations in progress.
  • HSA will be meeting with the employer to continue discussions.
  • HSA will meet in the coming days with members affected by the employers proposals.

Questions? Concerns?

Do you have any questions or comments regarding Lower Mainland consolidation? Email your questions to contract@hsabc.org.

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