The B.C. Labour Relations Board has dismissed a former Northern Health care aide's complaint that her union failed to properly represent her after she was fired from her job.
In June 2017, Vickie Hladchuk was terminated from her position in the rehabilitation unit at University Hospital of Northern British Columbia after the family of an elderly patient noticed a series of suspicious financial transactions.
It was discovered that Hladchuk had used the woman's bank card to make 41 withdrawals and purchases adding up to $6,981.10 and had cashed a cheque for $1,800 from the woman.
The woman was 94 years old, exhibited some dementia and was legally blind when she became a resident of the hospital in late December 2016 and had come under Hladchuk's care.
In early March 2017, the woman was moved to a long-term rest home but was readmitted to UHNBC about three weeks later when she suffered an injury in a fall.
The first of the transactions was made shortly after the woman had been readmitted and they continued until mid-May when the family alerted Northern Health.
Hladchuk admitted to cashing the cheque and making the purchases and withdrawals but contended they were part of an arrangement they had made that included the woman eventually coming to live with her.
By the end of June 2017, Northern Health had terminated Hladchuk for breaching the organization's policy and values. A Hospital Employees' Union representative accompanied her as she was escorted off the property. When Hladchuk asked if the union would file a grievance, the representative told her it would be a difficult case to win but she would talk to her director.
By the next month, the HEU requested that the B.C. Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry investigate the matter. The subsequent outcome was not in Hladchuk's favour and she was withdrawn from the registry which means she can no longer work in that field.
The investigator concluded Hladchuk had taken up the woman's offer "particularly knowing that the purported reasons behind the money being offered - rent - was never likely to occur." It was further found that Hladchuk's actions were "fradulent and wrong" and that she "knowingly took advantage of the Resident's vulnerability to obtain funds illegitimately."
The HEU subsequently withdrew the grievance and in a letter, told Hladchuk that as a result of the investigation, she would be removed from the registry and so, the union would not be able to convince an arbitrator to overturn Northern Health's decision to let her go.
In her complaint to the LRB, Hladchuk maintained the HEU did not talk to her before she was let go and did not try to prove her innocence "or resolve this misunderstanding as I was asked to do by the patient."
But in a decision issued May 3, LRB vice chair James Carawa noted that a HEU representative attended a meeting on the issue between her and Northern Health held before she was fired.
Carawa also agreed the HEU had good reason for withdrawing the grievance. The HEU had argued unions risk wasting tens of thousands of dollars of members' dues if they pursue grievances that have no reasonable chance of success.