Friday, July 16, 2021

Mediation underway in labour dispute between MLA's and Constituency Assistants

BC's NDP MLA's are currently in the midst of a labour
negotiation with their unionized  constituency staff

Today marks the second of two days of mediation bargaining in a labour dispute that few probably have heard much about, that of the concerns over wage parity and job security for Constituency Assistants for British Columbia MLA's.

CA's as they are referred to, do much of the work in the local offices for MLA's such as the North Coast's Jennifer Rice, the first point of contact for the elected officials with the public that they serve in their constituency.

When MLA's hit the road to the far reaches of their 
ridings, it's the CA's who handle the day to day work at home
from MLA' Rice's twitter feed)

Often the Constituency Assistant resolves the issues that the public brings to the office without even having to get the MLA involved in the issue, the troubleshooter that addresses some of the roadblocks that government bureaucracy can throw in the way from time to time.

Ms. Rice posted a job opportunity last December that provided a glimpse into some of the duties required of a CA in her office.

The current discussions related to their concerns with their employers have made for a one year trail of failed negotiations to date. 

The current salary rate for the CA's is between 26.55 an hour and 31.47, but only those who work for NDP MLA's are unionized, represented by the BCGEU. The  union is looking to gain them an 8 to 16 precent wage increase, something that would bring them to the same level of pay as those working for the NDP caucus  as well as those who work for Federal NDP MP's.

The employers the BC Public Service have indicated that the wage demands are somewhat out of reach, noting that they continue to operate under the guidelines of the sustainable services mandate, which has delivered wage settlements of 2 per cent for much of the last few years.

In the case of the Prince Rupert office, CA Joshua McLeod works for both MLA Jennifer Rice and MP Taylor Bachrach.

There hasn't been much reported on the dispute over the last few weeks, though there was a short burst of interest when it was announced that the CA's had taken a strike vote which delivered a 94 per cent mandate towards job action. 

Workers in NDP MLA's offices vote to strike
BC constituency assistants vote to strike

Should the mediation talks fails, the BCGEU has the option  to provide 72 hour strike notice to those MLA's who will be affected, something which could see the doors to local offices at the Ocean Centre closed and the lights remain off until a resolution is found.

So far, as has been the case for the NDP MLA's, Jennifer Rice has not issued any comments related to the ongoing dispute.

More notes related to provincial issues can be found from our archive page.

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