Hospital cleaning staff employed by the British multinational Compass Group in the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and Providence Healthcare have voted overwhelmingly to join the Hospital Employees’ Union.
Last year, Vancouver Coastal Health ended its decade-long housekeeping contract with Aramark in favour of a new commercial arrangement with Compass Group. As a result, about 900 HEU members lost their jobs though many were rehired by Compass under the terms of an agreement that it had in place with another union.
HEU organized the new employees and filed a certification application with the Labour Relations Board. Though HEU’s application had been opposed by Compass, the LRB agreed with HEU in a December 15 decision that the company’s arrangement with another union was not a bar to HEU’s application. And on December 31, the LRB rejected Compass’ application to have the decision reconsidered.
The mail-in ballot was conducted last fall but the count had been delayed while the Labour Relations Board dealt with the legal issues. The vote was counted early Friday evening.
HEU secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside thanked Compass employees for their support and solidarity during a period of great uncertainty.
“We are truly stronger together in one union,” says Whiteside. “And we are very excited to welcome – and welcome back – new HEU members to BC’s largest and oldest health care union.
HEU has represented cleaning staff at Powell River General Hospital as well as Vancouver General Hospital and other local health care facilities as far back as the founding of the union in 1944.