Longest labour dispute in AUPE history finally comes to end

Longest labour dispute in AUPE history finally comes to end

After more than 280 days on the picket line, locked-out workers at Monterey Place seniors facility in northeast Calgary have voted to accept a mediator’s proposed collective agreement.

“This agreement will see a major improvement in the employees’ compensation,” said Guy Smith, President of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, which represents the 90 nursing and support staff. “However, by the end of the contract they will still be paid below the industry standard. It wasn’t an easy decision to accept the mediator’s recommendation, but after nearly a year, these brave, dedicated members needed to get on with their lives.”

By the end of the four-year deal, which runs until 2016, health care aides’ hourly wages will have increased by up to 44 per cent, licensed practical nurses’ pay will go up as much as 40 per cent and some support staff’s wages will go up as much as 20 per cent.

“These increases show how poorly this employer had been paying its employees,” said Smith. “And this protracted dispute demonstrates the flaws in Alberta’s seniors care system. Corporate operators can hold their employees and residents hostage in order to maximize profits by pocketing government funding intended to pay staff.”

Monterey’s owner, Triple A Living Communities Inc., receives taxpayer funding to pay nursing staff at the same level as Alberta Health Services employees doing the same job, but Triple A pays less and pockets the difference. The company locked out its employees on June 26, 2012 to pressure them into accepting a contract that would keep their wages well below industry standard.

This was, by far, the longest labour dispute in AUPE history.

“I’m so proud of these workers,” said Smith. “They took a principled stand against a ruthless corporate employer who was trying to break them, but they refused to back down. Their grit and determination sent a strong message to private seniors care operators across Alberta: if you try to take advantage of your employees, your residents or Alberta taxpayers, you will be held accountable.”

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