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Val Avery elected HSA president at union's annual convention

Delegates to HSA’s 43nd annual convention this past weekend elected Val Avery as president, and debated resolutions that continue building on the union’s founding.

In her report to delegates, Avery ,a physiotherapist at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria,  said HSA members have an opportunity to regroup, build on the union’s capacity, and connect with members in their worksites. Avery first became president in September 2013, after the resignation of the former president.

“When I stepped up to the position in September, there was no easing into the work. We were into early bargaining at three tables, we were defending 1200 RPNs from a raid; we were fighting the province’s plans for mandatory flu vaccination; our staff was still working on essential services negotiations and 37 and a half hour work week grievances.

“We hit the ground running on all these fronts:  we rolled up our sleeves; we pushed back against employers trying to break agreements about the 37.5 hour work week, and an unprecedented team of volunteers stepped up to beat back the unions trying to steal our RPNs,“ she said.

The more than 300 delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of continuing the fight for Medicare, the solidarity work of the Committee on Equality and Social Action, and to work to protect and improve services for patients and clients who use the health care and community social services HSA members deliver.

HSA’s David Bland Memorial Award for advocacy in occupational health and safety was presented to Heather Sapergia, a retiring medical lab technologist at University Hospital of Northern BC and an HSA board member for six years. She received the honour in recognition of her efforts in support of safer workplaces that have helped maintain HSA’s reputation as a leader in health and safety among healthcare unions in BC.

Delegates welcomed guest speakers Sarah Laslett form the Washington State Labor Education and Research Center; Larry Brown, Secretary Treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees; Jim Sinclair, President of the BC Federation of Labour; and Amber Hockin from the Pacific Region of the Canadian Labour Congress.

HSA posted updates throughout convention on Facebook and Twitter (hashtag #HSA2014). For more information, including photos and quotes from guest speakers and committee presentations, see www.facebook.com/hsabc (you don’t need a Facebook account to view) or twitter.com/hsabc.

HSA’s 43rd Annual Convention was held April 10-12 at the Hotel Vancouver. Watch for full coverage in the upcoming issue of HSA’ member magazine, The Report.