Chris Allnutt

Interviewed by Rod Mickleburgh

Chris Allnutt’s deep desire to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves and make the world a better place led him to work in the labour movement. He first worked for associations representing professionals and scientists who were mostly employed by crown corporations in Ontario and British Columbia. He then worked for a couple of years for the B.C. Nurses’ Union before being hired by the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) as a researcher in 1989.He became the union’s secretary-business manager in 1996. In this interview, he discusses his work as a researcher and his subsequent leadership role, including negotiations for the groundbreaking employment security agreement during healthcare restructuring in the 1990s. The interview also focuses on the conflict with the B.C. Liberal government in the early 2000s, when they sought to privatize hospital services and strip the HEU’s collective bargaining rights, leading to an illegal strike and Allnutt’s eventual dismissal. Despite the challenges, the HEU fought back, and the union’s case eventually led to a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision which is now the hallmark of charter rights for unions in Canada. In the interview, Chris also speaks fondly about and with admiration for the strength of the HEU membership. After leaving the HEU, Chris worked with the environmental movement as a spokesperson for the Great Bear Rainforest project.

FESA (Federation of Engineers and Scientific Employees of Canada); CAE; BC Hydro; engineers; severance; Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU); BC Nurses’ Union (BCNU); healthcare collective bargaining; hospital closures; Shaughnessy Hospital; privatization of healthcare; contracting out; multinationals in healthcare; patient care; BCNU (British Columbia Nurses’ Union); picket lines; BC Federation of Labour; BC Federation of Labour Picket Line Policy; K-Bro Linen Systems; South Africa apartheid; CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees); BCGEU (BC General Employees’ Union); general strikes; PPWC (Public Private Workers of Canada); George Pearson Centre; picketing; BCTF (BC Teachers’ Federation); illegal strikes; wage rollback; scabs; Great Bear Rainforest; Supreme Court HEU decision on charter rights; Nora Payton; Glen Smale; Jack Gerow; Bill McDonald; Geoff Meggs; Carmela Allevato; Peter Cameron; Jean Greatbatch; Stephen Howard; Zorica Bosancic; Gordon Campbell; Lawrie McFarlane; Penny Ballem; Colin Hansen; Kevin Krueger; Mary LaPlante; Fred Muzin; Jim Sinclair; Art Kube; Jack Munro; Pierre Poilievre

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