Less than a third of BC nurses back raid on HEU: survey

By Tom Sandborn October 5, 2011   www.thetyee.ca

Less than one-third of registered B.C. nurses support an attempt made by their union to raid the Hospital Employees Union, members of which are licensed practical nurses, according to a phone survey of 790 nurses conducted in late September by the HEU.

Just 32 per cent of nurses contacted indicated support for the controversial raid. Twenty nine per cent of nurses polled opposed the raid, and 39 per cent were undecided.

The main reasons cited by those polled for opposing the raid include the financial costs, the barriers it creates for improving public health care and the negative impact it has on workplace relations, according to an HEU release.

The current raid (an attempt to persuade LPNs who currently belong to the HEU to shift their allegiance and their dues to the British Columbia Nurses’ Union, or BCNU) is a replay of a similar campaign conducted by the nursing union in 2009. 

The BCNU has been disciplined by the Canadian Labour Congress, the BC Federation of Labour and the local labour councils for conducting raids. Most recently, the B.C. union withdrew from its national umbrella group, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, which had been critical of the B.C. raid. The withdrawal increases BCNU’s isolation within the labour movement.

The 2009 raid attempts by BCNU included six separate actions aimed at HEU members, all of which failed.

Requests for comment on this story directed to BCNU president Debra McPherson and to BCNU media staff on Monday were not returned before deadline.

Tom Sandborn covers labour and health policy stories for the Tyee. He welcomes your feedback and story tips here.

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