IMPORTANT: PSW agreement ratification meetings

Click here to view the PSW agreement ratification meeting dates and locations.

Tentative agreement reached for PSWs

Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare, announced today that a tentative collective agreement has been reached in bargaining with Red Cross Care Partners. The agreement will be presented for ratification to SEIU members at regional meetings over the next two weeks. The agreement covers 4,500 homecare workers across Ontario. The parties released the following joint statement:

Red Cross Care Partners and the Canadian Red Cross Society - Personal Support Services and SEIU Healthcare Union jointly announce that they have reached a tentative collective agreement, subject to ratification by November 29, 2013. Both the Employers and the Union will be divulging details to their respective membership and will be recommending ratification.

Why is Red Cross Care Partners exploiting Personal Support Workers?

Last year, the CEO of the Red Cross Society was given a 9% increase in base salary, about $25 thousand, bringing his total wage package to just under $300,000. This occurred around the same time he was finalizing a merger between his Ontario non-profit homecare agency and the for-profit company CarePartners.

The new company, Red Cross Care Partners, seems to be adopting a corporate vision that includes not only extremely generous compensation for its executives, but also some of the worst practices of runaway greed and selfishness, as it refuses to address the longstanding issues of basic respect and fair treatment being sought by 4,500 Personal Support Workers.

These workers, known as PSW’s, are the backbone of homecare services across Ontario. They go into the homes of seniors and other clients every day, often driving long distances on their own time and paying for gas out of their own pockets, to deliver the kind of quality care that keeps their clients healthy, independent and in their own homes, where they want to be.

The average salary of a PSW is about the same as the increase given to the CEO. These workers have no pension plan and no ability to save for retirement. And they have been working under a regime of wage freezes for five years (having settled in two contracts for small, lump sum payments). In the last two years, as a result of inflation and a big jump in the price of gas, the value of their annual earnings has been reduced by 7%.

These women (more than 90% of the workforce is female) are penalized for doing the hard lifting of taking care of our aging population and the most vulnerable members of society. They provide support to their clients for the activities of daily living and bring skills and dedication that serve as a lifeline supplement to the caregiving and love of family members.

They are also increasingly identified as a key to success in building a sustainable health system. Governments everywhere are responding to the challenge of “bending the cost curve” in health spending by shifting resources from acute and hospital care to community and homecare. In Ontario, the provincial government is committed to a major multi-year increase in homecare funding.

Controlling costs is one thing. Building a vision for sustainability on the backs of front-line Personal Support Workers is quite another. Human resource planning strategies have been successfully applied to critical workforce supply, development and stabilization issues involving nurses, physicians and other professionals. It’s long past time for health system planners to address the fundamental challenges facing front-line homecare work.

There is also an underlying issue of financial accountability across the homecare sector. We estimate that in 2013, Red Cross Care Partners, the largest homecare agency in Ontario, will direct $72 million, fully half its allocation of government funding, toward administration, company profit and executive compensation. No wonder there are growing concerns about efficiency in the sector.

Ontarians have a right to know whether this is what government intends when it promises expansion of homecare – that only 50 cents of every taxpayer dollar makes it to the client, that workers are taken for granted and leave their jobs to look for better pay and benefits elsewhere, and that agency executives get to play out their fantasies of private-sector compensation regimes, with all their attendant arrogance and self-interest.

Red Cross Care Partners is offering nothing at the bargaining table - another round of zeroes. Another contract with no progress on gas mileage, driving time, pension entitlement, or benefit improvements. As a consequence, we are now less than two weeks away from a province-wide strike at this agency.

Why is this company exploiting Personal Support Workers? Because, at least in the past, they could. But not any more. This time it will be different. This time, these workers will settle for nothing less than justice for PSWs.

Sharleen Stewart

President, SEIU Healthcare

Allied Healthcare Professionals Week

If you were asked to think of a healthcare worker, what job comes to mind? Doctor? Nurse? There are in fact many other healthcare professionals who help patients with their recovery every day.

There’s the physiotherapist who helps mend a patient’s injured body. Lab technicians who analyze data to accurately diagnose disease. Respiratory therapists that help patients improve their breathing. Dietitians who create nutritional plans for patients to help repair an ailing body. The massage therapist who takes the pain away from aching muscles. They all help us recover from our illnesses and injuries.

All of these allied health professionals play a key role in our healthcare system. That’s why SEIU Healthcare is celebrating Allied Health Professionals Week; To recognize those who provide hands-on patient care on the frontlines and behind the scenes. We acknowledge the integral role they play in a healthcare team.  

We invite all allied healthcare professionals who are members of SEIU Healthcare to enter a special raffle to win some great prizes.

For more information and to enter, please call the Member Resource Centre at

1-877-672-7348 by Friday, November 8!

Sharleen Stewart stands up for RPNs

 

October 28, 2013

SEIU Healthcare

125 Mural Street

Richmond Hill, ON

L4B 1M4

Dr. Sue Matthews

Interim President & CEO Executive VP / Chief Nursing

Niagara Health System Corporate Office
1200 Fourth Ave
St. Catharine’s, ON
L2S 0A9

Dear Dr. Matthews,

I am writing to you on behalf of the more than 9,000 RPNs represented by SEIU Healthcare. 

As you are no doubt aware, the article in which you were quoted appearing in the St. Catharine’s Standard on Thursday, October 10, also quoted Ms. Loretta Tirabassi-Olinski, President of the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) Local 26 stating, ”patients have better results when treated by RNs rather than registered practical nurses. More RNs results in better patient outcomes, resulting in fewer re-admissions.”    

To my knowledge there have been no Canadian studies to back up this claim put forward by Ms.Tirabassi-Olinskiand ONA. By allowing ONA to repeatedly make this unfounded claim is contributing to a toxic work environment in the Niagara Health System (NHS) and this is why I was very disappointed to learn that you have taken no steps to publically or privately support the RPNs who do such valuable work for the NHS.

This is partially puzzling given your most recent acceptance of the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario Employer of Excellence Award which recognizes and honours employers that have demonstrated outstanding achievement in improving the utilization of RPNs in innovative and creative ways; creating a multi-disciplinary team environment for all health care workers; and maintaining a safe, respectful and empowering work environment where RPNs can work to the full scope of their knowledge, skills and judgment.

The RPNs I represent are dedicated, caring individuals that are more than qualified and are a critical component of a cost effective and efficient healthcare system. Many of them have shared their disappointment that there has been no response from NHS. In the future when the competency of RPNs is challenged publically, it would be helpful to know that the President & CEO of the organization they work for valued their efforts in ensuring we all provide the best healthcare possible to the people of Niagara Region.

Yours sincerely,

                       

 Sharleen Stewart

President, SEIU Healthcare

In Memoriam Jade Campbell 1951 – 2013

In Memoriam
Jade Campbell
1951 – 2013

It is with heavy hearts that we mark the passing of a cherished member of the SEIU family. Jade Campbell, SEIU executive board member, Chief Steward, organizer, mother, grandmother and community activist.

Jade spent 35 years working in the Cambridge Memorial Hospital, and was Chief Steward there. Her daughter Kailin, following in her mother’s footsteps, is a steward there today. “It was Jade’s hospital, and a SEIU hospital,” remembers Manny Carvalho, who credits Jade with being a steady hand and early influence on him while he was still a young organizer with SEIU Local 204. “She lived and breathed the hospital. Cambridge Memorial Hospital was as much Jade’s as it was Cambridge’s,” said Carvalho.

“Jade was very light-hearted but she was also a very serious person as well; that’s what made Jade who she was,” said Carvalho, who also credits Jade with being a mentor to other members of the executive board of SEIU Healthcare, “she was the quintessential professional.”

Along with her daughter, Jade is also survived by her husband Allan Crane, son Derrick, an Olympian with the Canadian speed skating team, her grandchildren, brothers, many nieces and nephews, as well as her entire SEIU family – but we think Jade would have liked the old labour movement phrase, fitting for the life she led, “Don’t Mourn, Organize!”

Funeral services will be held at Trinity Anglican Church, at 12 Blair Road, Cambridge, Ontario on Tuesday October 8, 2013 at 11 A.M. Donations in Jade Campbell’s memory can be made to the Cambridge Memorial Hospital Foundation Staff Education Fund

 

 

Click to read a tribute article to Jade Campbell by Vallarie Hill - A Champion for the Underdog