By Susan Zielinski
Red Deer Advocate
Health-care staff at Extendicare Michener Hill in Red Deer will hold a strike vote on June 19.
Alberta Union of Provincial Employees applied for a strike vote with the Alberta Labour Relations Board on May 31 on behalf of 1,200 seniors care staff at eight Extendicare sites province-wide following the rejection of the majority of a mediator’s recommendations for settlement.
Strike votes will be held between June 17 and 26.
“We expect the workers will strongly speak out against the type of bargaining that they are experiencing with their contract,” AUPE negotiator Kevin Davediuk said on Tuesday.
The union says Extendicare is pushing for net earnings rollbacks, drastic reductions to sick time that would force staff to work sick, which would be hazardous to both staff and residents, and the lowest number of named holidays in any health-care agreement in Alberta.
In a press release, AUPE president Guy Smith said what Extendicare wants staff to accept is dangerous to the quality of care residents need and deserve.
“Extendicare implies a lack of funding from Alberta Health Services is dictating their financial position to not compensate caregivers properly, yet they refuse to provide proof this is the case,” Smith said.
“These types of tactics detract from care and are harmful to our working relationship with the employer.”
Extendicare Michener Hill has 300 to 325 AUPE members who include licensed practical nurses, health care aides, therapy support staff, maintenance workers, and food service staff — basically all staff except for registered nurses.
Red Deer workers have been without a contract since Dec. 31.
It is the first time all eight Extendicare sites in Athabasca, Mayerthorpe, Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary and Lethbridge have gone to bargaining together.
“The size of this dispute is massive. We’re looking at about 1,000 beds across the province, it’s just under 10 per cent of all the long-term care beds,” Davediuk said.
If workers vote to strike they must give 72 hours’ notice to their employer.
Officials from Extendicare were unavailable to comment.