SEIU Healthcare is proud to announce an important victory in the home and community care sector, landing a health benefits plan for full-time members at Circle of Care.

Negotiations between the SEIU Healthcare bargaining committee and Circle of Care management commenced on June 16, 2021 to renew their collective agreement. Before the bargaining process, SEIU union representative, Murray Cooke sent out a bargaining survey and spoke to the members at General Membership Meetings (GMMs) to identify their top bargaining priorities. It was clear that health benefits coverage was at the top of their list. Circle of Care was founded in 1974, and to date, members have never had health benefits.

We not only had a strong bargaining team (consisting of four Circle of Care members: Liza Aquino, Edith Brown-Hinds, Rowena Cerezo, and Maria Cundangan), but they took matters into their own hands by writing letters to their employer and getting their colleagues to sign petitions urging Circle of Care to provide benefits in their new contract. On October 21, after several bargaining meetings, we reached a tentative agreement and it was ratified by the membership on November 5, achieving a new milestone for the homecare and community care sector.

For the first time in history, through the SEIU Benefit Trust Fund, these members have drug coverage, dental care, vision care, and so much more. Although these benefits are only for full-time Circle of Care staff, this is a step in the right direction for all our members in the HCC sector.

“We are thrilled that through the hard work of the bargaining committee and their union representative Murray Cooke, we were able to obtain a health benefits plan for full-time members,” said Tyler Downey, SEIU Healthcare’s Secretary Treasurer. “This victory is just one small step in the right direction for the home and community care sector. We must now work with other HCC employers to get them to offer their employees a benefit plan that will not only improve their workers’ lives inside and outside their workplaces, but also will help address the recruitment and retention crisis that has worsened over the past two years.”

On top of benefits, the new contract also included the creation of a Labour-Management Committee, more union steward rights, improved compensation language, and more access to float days. This collective agreement is proof that when members step up and into situations where their voices cannot be ignored, we can win together and create meaningful change in your workplaces. Although wage negotiations are capped at 1% for each year due to the Ford government’s Bill 124, the employer did agree to discuss possible compensation adjustments if Bill 124 is repealed.

“This initiative was a member-led grassroots movement. Members may not realize how much power their voices have, but when they get involved and participate in causes they truly believe in, we can make advancements together and win,” said Murray Cooke, SEIU Healthcare’s Union Representative. “Without pressure and mobilization, workplace issues and challenges won’t change. Don’t be afraid to be a part of union initiatives. When you can, join actions, attend events, build your union power. Imagine what we can do together if everyone spoke up and used their voice.”