Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

June 29, 2017 20:10 ET

Labour to rally outside Pacific Blue Cross office

BURNABY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - June 29, 2017) - CUPE BC Secretary-Treasurer Trevor Davies will be one of three labour leaders calling on Pacific Blue Cross to abandon its targeting of retiree benefits when CUPE Local 1816 holds a rally on Friday morning at the company's main office.

Joining Davies at the rally, "Standing Up for Benefits", will be BC Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Aaron Ekman and MoveUp Secretary-Treasurer Lori Mayhew.

The rally will begin at 11 a.m. at 4250 Canada Way (corner of Gilmore) in Burnaby.

NOTE: Backgrounder below.

WHAT: Rally for Benefits, in support of CUPE 1816 members and their defense of retiree benefits
WHEN: Friday, June 30, at 11 a.m.
WHERE: Pacific Blue Cross head office
4250 Canada Way (corner of Gilmore), Burnaby

CUPE 1816 and Pacific Blue Cross: Backgrounder

CUPE Local 1816 and Pacific Blue Cross began bargaining in September 2016. Since then, there have been 11 sessions at the table, two of which were mediated sessions at the BC Labour Board, plus a day of mediated talks with Vince Ready. The two sides remain significantly apart on wages and retiree benefits.

What are the issues?

  • The Employer initially tabled a proposal to take away retiree benefits from employees who were already retired. Despite withdrawing this proposal in mediation, the Employer continues to insist on shifting millions of dollars in liability from the company and placing it on the backs of retirees.
  • The Employer claims that retiree benefits are unaffordable. However, current service costs for retiree benefits amount to only $914,000, or less than two per cent of total payroll. The concessions sought by PBC, if granted, would save the Employer less than 1 per cent of payroll in current service costs.
  • The Employer says the company is struggling financially. However, in 2016 the company had a net profit of nearly $11 million. In the company's annual report for that year, CEO Jan K. Grude indicated that the company is "financially healthy", that the Employer achieved "a new high in top-line revenue growth" at $1.44 billion and earned the highest rating from the Financial Institutions Commission (FICOM)
  • To make its case for clawing back retiree benefits, the Employer draws a false distinction between the operating side and the investment side of the business. PBC made nearly $32 million in investment income during 2016. The Union, after retaining its own actuary, has been advised that there is no financial case to be made for the Employer's demands.
  • Under its current leadership, PBC has lost at least two major clients: BC Public Service Agency and the BC Pension Corporation.
  • Since Jan K. Grude became president and CEO, staff morale at PBC has plummeted to all-time lows. Meanwhile, contrary to his claims of financial instability, PBC has hired 17 consultants since May 2017 alone while the company continues to undergo expensive major upgrades to its head office.
  • On June 28, the Employer advised the Union that it would no longer collect union dues, no longer provide paid sick leave to ill or disabled employees, and not approve any new vacation leave requests. It also cancelled the Family Responsibility Leave provisions of the collective agreement.

Contact Information

  • James Richardson
    CUPE National Representative
    (604) 831-6210

    Dan Gawthrop
    CUPE Communications
    (604) 999-6132