Hospital workers approve new contract

Whitehorse General Hospital employees have a new contract with their employer that includes a nine per cent wage increase over three years.

Whitehorse General Hospital employees have a new contract with their employer that includes a nine per cent wage increase over three years.

The three-year collective agreement with the Whitehorse Hospital Corporation came into effect January 31 and runs until August 31, 2010.

Pay increases, however, are retroactive to September 1, 2007.

Negotiations ran smoothly, according to hospital administration.

In addition to the three per cent annual wage increase, the agreement includes an extra 15 weeks for maternity leave, expanded benefits for same-sex partners and compassionate-care leave.

About 200 members of Yukon Employees’ Union Local Y025 approved the agreement on January 31.

Members had been without a contract since August 31.

The union represents most non-nursing employees at the hospital.

Members include lab technicians, administrators and computer systems workers, kitchen staff, custodians and nursing assistants.

The union refused to comment for this story.

A breakdown of votes is not released to the public.

“The ratification of this collective agreement demonstrates the strong co-operative work environment at the hospital,” said board of trustees chair Craig Tuton in a media release.

“We are pleased with the outcome and the professionalism displayed by both parties.” 

A number of concessions were obtained by the hospital administration, including the ability to hire unqualified people for tough-to-fill positions.

Though it started out as an employer demand, the union says the concession is actually beneficial to members since it provides more training opportunities.

The unqualified employee will be trained to do the job.

Employees have one year to complete training.

The union negotiated an extra 15 weeks for parental leave on top of the usual maternity leave, and same-sex partners are now included in maternity/paternity benefits.

Eight weeks for compassionate care to take care of ailing family members were also added to the new contract.

Shift premiums — extra pay for working nights or weekends — will be increased to a total of $2, from $1.50, over the course of the contract.

“The pay increase is reasonable — not spectacular but fair,” said Judy McMurphy, a union member who works in health records.