New HEU members

Welcome to B.C.'s largest health care union.

You are joining a strong union of more than 60,000 health care workers across the province. Here's a two-and-a-half minute crash course about your union and how we work together for better workplaces and a just society.

You may have received a Welcome booklet from your HEU local. This booklet provides an overview of how HEU works for our members.

Local executives: you can order Welcome Kits for your local through the Local Supplies and Materials Order Form.

Order New Member Kits

Glossary of HEU and union terms

If you're new to unions, you may not be familiar with words and terms often used by unions and HEU members. This glossary provides an introduction for some common union and labour relations terms. If there are other union terms that you don't understand, please connect with your HEU staff representative or shop steward.

Bargaining conference

Conferences organized before bargaining begins to determine bargaining priorities and to elect the bargaining committees. Bargaining conferences are normally held for public sector bargaining. Independent sites (for-profit and non-profit) usually hold pre-bargaining meetings.


Negotiated entitlements on top of wages. For example, a benefit can be a pension, vacation time, drug and medical plans, long-term disability, or life insurance. The employer pays for all or part of these benefits, depending on the collective agreement.


The legal process of a labour board deciding that a union can be the bargaining agent for employees in dealing with their employer. Once certified, the union has a legal right and obligation to represent all employees in the bargaining unit. To get certification, a union must show that a majority of the workers support it.

Charter-protected right

A right defined under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


A meeting held every two years, attended by member delegates. At this meeting, delegates set the direction of the union for the next two years and discuss and vote on changes to HEU’s Constitution and By-Laws, policies and procedures. It’s also where we elect the Provincial Executive.

Collective agreement

A written agreement between the union and employer that tells workers and the employer what their rights and responsibilities are. It is also called a contract. The collective agreement covers such things as wages, benefits, hours of work, conditions of work, seniority, how to handle disagreements.

Collective bargaining

Negotiations between a union and employer for a collective agreement.

Comprehensive report

A comprehensive report, or comp report, is a document that outlines the gains reached in a tentative agreement.


A document that sets out the structure of an organization and its basic rules of operation.

Contracting out/Contracted-out

When an employer uses another employer to do work of the bargaining unit.


A union member elected by fellow members or appointed by elected union leaders who represents their workplace or local at a meeting or event (e.g., bargaining meeting, convention, or union conference).


When a person or group of people is treated differently for an improper reason.

  • Direct discrimination is when a person is treated differently based on race, gender, or other characteristic.
  • Indirect discrimination is when a rule or policy applies to everyone, but it ends up negatively affecting a particular group.
  • Systemic discrimination is when different treatment based on stereotypes or prejudice is deeply rooted in an organization.

Equity Standing Committees

Six committees made up of members, as mandated by HEU’s constitution, each representing one of HEU’s equity groups:

  • Indigenous Peoples;
  • Ethnic Diversity;
  • Pink Triangle;
  • People with Disabilities;
  • Two-Spirit, Women & Non-Binary; and
  • Young Workers.


A complaint by one or more employees or the union that the employer has breached the collective agreement.

Job action

A concerted activity by employees that impacts the employer’s regular operations and is designed to put pressure on the employer. Job actions can include a strike, overtime ban or work-to-rule (where workers stay on the job but change how they do things).

Local (or union local or HEU local)

A union local is a branch formed under a larger union. An HEU local is a branch of HEU. The name and composition of a local is determined within 90 days of certification. Sometimes newly certified sites are merged with existing HEU locals.

Local executive

Members elected at the local level to represent their local and fill the following positions: chairperson, vice-chairperson, secretary-treasurer, assistant secretary, conductor, warden, and trustees.


When work or services are moved from the non-profit sector to the for-profit sector.

Provincial Executive

Members elected by delegates at HEU conventions to guide the union’s work in-between conventions. Find out more about HEU's Provincial Executive members at:

Shop steward/steward/union steward

A union officer who represents co-workers in dealing with the employer.

Ratification / ratify

A vote of bargaining unit members to accept or reject a proposed collective agreement (or tentative agreement).

Staff representative

An employee of the union who helps local union officers represent workers.

Tentative agreement

A collective agreement reached between the employer (or the employer’s bargaining agent) and the union’s bargaining committee that will be proposed to the bargaining unit’s membership for a ratification vote.