Name: Paulita Hedley
Occupation: Care Aide, Hollyburn House
As a young girl who grew up in a poor farming family in the Philippines, Paulita longed to fly in one of the jets that flew above the fields of her family’s farm. She dreamed of a better life.
Could Paulita have foreseen that she would move to Canada and become a Hospital Employees’ Union member working as a care aide at Hollyburn House in West Vancouver?
Paulita’s dream of flight came true when she flew to Singapore in 1987 to become a nanny. She was determined to use her work as a stepping stone to a better life. Her prayers were answered when in 1989 she was recruited by a Singapore nanny agency to come to B.C.
While working on her first two-year nanny contract, Paulita studied in Vancouver to become a care aide and completed her one-month practicum at Hollyburn House. Her work was excellent, as demonstrated by her ongoing career there as a care aide.
Over Paulita’s past 23 years at Hollyburn House, there have been five different owners. The last three, including the current operator, have had HEU representing the workers.
Paulita helped bring HEU into her facility and she appreciates the difference that unionizing has made to her life. “HEU came and it’s a good union. The union makes me happy. I feel content and at ease.”
The current owner of Hollyburn House is HCN-Revera Lessee. While previous owners allowed successorship (staff kept their jobs), Revera laid off staff, cut hours, made new rotations, and asked staff to reapply for their jobs. HEU fought to get the hours back for the facility’s care aides.
“Being in a union protects us. Without a union, the employer can easily fire staff – a worker can be out the door in seconds. The union has really helped me and my family because my seniority allowed me to keep my job and get the full-time hours that have given me job security and peace of mind.
“I’ve become more confident, more knowledgeable. I’ve become aware of my rights and know how to support members. I can fight back. The union has helped me become strong.
“I’m so grateful that HEU educates me. Through all my courses and being on the Bargaining Committee, I’ve learned a lot.” And for the past 15 years, Paulita has worked hard as long-time local secretary-treasurer.
Paulita advises her union sisters and brothers to “be thankful you are unionized. Be active, supportive and patient. Speak professionally, consistently, firmly and respectfully to your managers. When you do, your managers will do the same.”