Duncan’s Sunridge employees vote to join union – again

After an uncertain few months that saw them fired and rehired, employees at Sunridge Place have voted to join the Hospital Employees Union.

"We have been engaged in a bit of an organi z ing dr ive at Sunr idge Place," Mike Old, HEU ‘s communications director, said.

The workers who were directly involved at Sunridge all lost their jobs at the beginning of June as a result of contracting out, which happened at about the same time as the ownership of the facility changed, he said.

"The subcontractor is a company based out of Kamloops called CareCorp [Senior Services] and they hired some of the old staff back and hired some new staff as well. The staff approached us about joining Hospital Employees Union. The workers voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday [Aug. 5] to join the HEU. We found out Tuesday night about it," Old said.

At Sunridge Place, 264 HEU -certified staff members received notice Feb. 17 that the facility on Bundock Street in Duncan had been sold to Park Place Seniors Living, which contracted out the task of providing workers to CareCorp.

They were told they’d be out of a job June 2. Their union contract ended with the change in ownership.

After being approached anew by the workers, HEU followed a standard procedure when organizing a site.

"We had applied to the Labour Relations Board about a week and a half ago because we had collected enough signed membership cards, which is the step you need to take to show the Labour Relations Board that there is support in the worksite. Because of that they [the LRB] ordered the vote, which took place on Tuesday," Old said.

There are about 180 staff members that were eligible to vote.

"Now we have to sit down with employees and help them set up an HEU local. They will form a bargaining committee and we’ll be approaching CareCorp to negotiate a first collective agreement."

"At the end of the day the choice is up to the employees and they chose to become members of the union," said Old. "We’re hoping that CareCorp respects that decision and that we can just move on and do what we can do to keep things moving smoothly at the facility."

CareCorp was contacted Thursday morning for a comment but did not respond by press time.