Bargaining Update

Bargaining Update

Nursing staff at Calgary’s Carewest seniors facilities will hold a series of rallies to back up their efforts to secure a fair collective agreement.

“This is about respect,” said Bill Dechant, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, which represents approximately 820 Carewest nursing staff (and 140 support staff who aren’t involved in this round of collective bargaining). “The way that the employer has behaved at the bargaining table suggests they don’t value our members or the work they do. If I had a family member living there, I’d worry about Carewest’s commitment to providing the best possible care.”

Face-to-face bargaining ground to a halt earlier this year, when Carewest withdrew a financial offer and tabled another one that was substantially weaker.

Carewest also refuses to provide other benefits that Alberta Health Services offers its employees doing the same work, even though Carewest is a wholly owned subsidiary of AHS.

“There’s no reason for Carewest employees to be valued less than their counterparts at Alberta Health Services,” said AUPE staff negotiator John Wevers. “The government predicts average wages will increase 3.3 per cent per year for the next three years, while the labour market will remain very tight, at 4.3 per cent unemployment. If Carewest wants to attract and retain qualified staff, it’s in their best interests to remain competitive.”

Mediation failed to resolve the impasse, and the two sides are heading to arbitration in the fall.

“There’s still time to resolve this before we go into arbitration,” said AUPEVice-President Susan Slade. “We’re holding these rallies to let the employer know that we’re still willing to negotiate, but we want it to be respectful and reasonable.”

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