Labour Board dismisses raid of health unions by BC Nurses

By Carmela Allevato

In a decision issued on April 11, 2016, the raiding activities of the BC Nurses suffered a set-back. About 5 years ago, the then British Columbia Nurses Union was expelled from the Canadian Labour Congress and the BC Federation of Labour for its raiding campaigns against other health unions in the province. This came on the heels of BCN’s successful application at the Labour Relations Board to raid some 6500 licensed practical nurses from their traditional unions, the Hospital Employee’s Union and the BCGEU. 

Raiding - the activity of organizing workers to transfer their membership from one affiliated union to another - is anathema to the principle of solidarity that is foundational to the labour movement. Raiding another union affiliated with the Canadian Labour Congress will lead to sanctions and expulsion from the house of labour. Not only does it create divisions within organizations that are founded on solidarity, but it is an activity which inevitably aids the employer. 

Unfortunately, the ultimate sanction of expulsion from the central labour body has not dissuaded the BCN from its raiding activities. Its latest efforts have been aimed at signing up psychologists and psychometrists who are members of the Health Sciences Association or the Professional Employees Association. BCN applied to the Labour Relations Board to be certified as their representative in late 2015. In a decision that contains a detailed analysis of the structure of health care bargaining units and the Boards’s policy on raids and partial raids in the sector, the Board dismissed the application. The decision, B49/2016 should be available on the Board's website in the next week or so.

Let’s hope that with this setback, the leadership of the BCN will decide to redirect their efforts and resources towards advocating for better healthcare and better working conditions for their members and all healthcare workers, rather than attacking other unions. And let’s hope that nurses themselves will call upon their leadership to do just that.