In her 34 years at the WCB, Adrienne Kernested has seen a lot of changes to the organization. She remembers the days of working on typewriters, people smoking at their desks and far fewer benefits and rights for workers.
“When I started, we had just basic coverage. There was no healthy living or wellness components to our coverage, there were no EDOs, no flex time. We had none of the extras that we have today,” said Adrienne.
Beyond the extras, Adrienne has also seen changes made to make policies less discriminatory. She was hired along with four other people to the WCB’s claims department and soon realized that being a mom would prove to be a disadvantage when it came to calculating her seniority. Today, when someone takes maternity or parental leave, their seniority continues to accumulate, a right that was fought for and gained by our union. But, when Adrienne first worked at the WCB, her seniority was put on hold while she took time to raise her family.
“Of the four people that I started with, none of them had children, so when it came to competing for jobs and for determining vacation, seniority always became a factor. My anniversary date was changed and I fell in the seniority order in the claims department, said Adrienne.
Now, 34 years later, Adrienne has had the benefit of seeing the WCB evolve and believes the union continues to play an important role in making our organization better by advocating for workers.
“Being a part of a union is about equality. Many people don’t like to draw attention to themselves and prefer to try and solve things for themselves, but that doesn’t always work. I feel that the union works diligently on our behalf to always make things better and fairer,” said Adrienne.
In Adrienne’s opinion, one of the union’s strengths is it willingness to strive to gain more for members and its determination to never step backwards when it comes to gaining benefits for members.
“They’ve always fought for cost of living and wage increases, EDOs, and have been steadfast with pension benefits. They’ve also done their best to negotiate on our behalf when it comes to accommodations and return to work,” said Adrienne.
Adrienne recognizes that the WCB, as an organization, has also been open to making the necessary changes, even if it’s sometimes been through “baby steps”, to improve working conditions for workers, and to listen to union concerns. She can’t help but compare WCB’s unionized employees to those who work in non-unionized workplaces.
“Many people are trying to support themselves and their families by working part-time jobs with no benefits, no wage increases, no job security and definitely no pension. Our union has always been there to work on behalf of employees and we often take it for granted, until we need them. In my opinion, they provide security and that means a lot,” said Adrienne.