June 20th, 2024

Employees say Good Sams refuses to bargain in good faith

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on March 4, 2023.

Herald photo by Ry Clarke Members and supporters of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) protest the ongoing labour challenges and contract disputes with the Good Samaritan Society, Friday in front of a downtown law office.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Employees of the Good Samaritan Society rallied Friday outside a law office in Lethbridge to protest what they say is poor bargaining of their collective agreement by the society.

Darren Graham, vice-president of the south region for Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), said the rally was held outside of the North and Company law office because one of the firm’s partners, Wayne Petersen, is the board chairperson for the Good Samaritan Society.

Graham said one of the reasons for the rally was to protest the departure of the Good Samaritan Society from the bargaining table.

“There’s a multitude of things, but the biggest one is that the employer, Good Samaritan Society, walked away from the bargaining table.” Graham said. “They were supposed to come to the bargaining table in March and they notified us at the end of February that they would not be holding those dates and they would not be putting any proposals forward.

Graham said there are a couple of salaries in that collective agreement that are below minimum wage and they are working short-staffed because new workers are quitting within a few days.

He said there are 17 group homes and 19 long-term-care facilities with about 1700 members who are affected in this bargaining. He noted there was also a rally in Edmonton at the same time as the Lethbridge rally.

In Lethbridge Good Sams has facilities in Park Meadows Village and West highland Centre and Estates, and part of that chapter is Linden View in Taber. There are also facilities in surrounding communities in southern Alberta which include Lee Crest in Cardston, Prairie Ridge in Raymond, and Garden Vista in Magrath.

“This is a big deal, because we’ve been trying to get the employer to put some sort of financial proposal on the table for five and a half years,” said Graham.

He said this is taking years because of multiple interruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuous stalling from the Good Samaritan society.

“I believe we’re on their ninth negotiator in the last two years, so for them to walk away from the table when you have folks out there that suffered through the pandemic, who were called heroes at one time and now they’re being treated like zeros.”

Graham said the rallies are also protesting the closure of 77 beds in Edmonton and the layoffs 36 members.

“And then they have the gall to schedule a recruitment campaign for new workers, when they just laid off 36 people, but they think that they can get workers in at the very bottom rates and not give any consideration to these workers.”

He said it is quite sad how the Good Samaritan Society is treating their workforce.

“They unfortunately have the nickname of Bad Sam right now. It’s unacceptable how they are treating their workers.”

He said the lack of proper wages is pushing people not only to quit their jobs, but to quit the profession, which is impacting the lack of healthcare workers across the province.

“We hope Good Sam does the right thing and comes back to the bargaining table and treats their employees with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

The Good Samaritan Society would not comment, but said in a prepared statement to the Herald, “Alberta Health Services has reduced funding for 77 beds at the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre in Edmonton. As a result, we will be reducing staffing in clinical and non-clinical roles to align with the new funding at that site.”

The statement also said there won’t be any layoffs in Lethbridge, nor are there any plans to do so, and the Society “never left the bargaining table.”

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