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BCNU Founded in 1981

The BC Nurses’ Union was officially founded in February 1981 as an independent Canadian union, when the Labour Relations Division of the Registered Nurses Association of BC broke away from the RNABC, then the licensing body for RNs in BC. BCNU's founding convention was held June 11, 1981 in Victoria.

Early Roots Planted in Past Struggles

The Graduate Nurses' Association of B.C. was launched in 1912. It immediately began fighting for quality healthcare, decent working conditions, and benefits such as the eight-hour day. In 1946, the Registered Nurses Association of B.C. (RNABC) won its first certification, at Vancouver's St. Paul's Hospital.

Province-Wide Bargaining Begins

In 1959, the first province-wide bargaining occurred, resulting in a two-year contract with medical and pension benefits. In 1980, provincial government nurses went on strike for two weeks and won a 40% increase over three years; while general hospital nurses won a 49% increase, over 27 months, in wages and benefits.

The Birth of BCNU

The BCNU was born the following year, 1981, during a special convention of the RNABC Labour Relations Division. Today, the BCNU represents some 40,000 members with the majority of members covered by a single provincial collective agreement.

BCNU Day — June 11

On June 11, 1981 some 200 nurses gathered at the Empress Hotel in Victoria for BCNU's founding convention.

Read about BCNU's first 25 years


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