By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on September 27, 2023.
Health care workers who are members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) rallied Monday outside a local supportive living facility to protest a lack of wage increases since 2017.
AUPE members rallied outside the Good Samaritan Society’s Park Meadows Village and Cottages, and vice president for AUPE South region, Darren Graham told media they are at a point where a mediator recommended a settlement.
“The settlement is very similar to Alberta Health Services; it’s structured a little differently because the employer said they were not Alberta Health Services, but we both put our arguments forward to the mediator and the mediator came back with a report recommending similar salaries to what Alberta Health Services got,” said Graham.
Â He said the settlement calls for 1.25 per cent for the years 2021 through 2023 and then 0.5 per cent from Jan. 1of 2024.
Â “That’s what the mediators put forward, that’s what our members are actually currently voting on. They have been voting all month. One of our big concerns though is Good Samaritan Society didn’t want that high of a salary settlement for this agreement that’s over six years old now,” said Graham.
He said the Good Samaritan Society is basically at a point where they might not recommend the mediator’s report to ratify this agreement.
Â “We’ll know on Sept. 28 whether that mediator’s recommendations are actually going to be approved by both sides, and we’ll have our ballot results on the night of the 27th,” said Graham.
He said even though the rally was outside of a specific location on Monday, there are currently 1,400 AUPE continuing care members employed at Good Samaritan Society locations across the province that are being affected by the current negotiations.
Graham pointed out that in the midst of negotiations, while AUPE members are working short-staffed in many locations, Good Samaritan Society has been contracting workers who are getting paid more than AUPE members.
“It’s really interesting to us why they don’t want to come to a conclusion, a fair dignified conclusion at the bargaining table. Shepherd’s Care Foundation and Bethany of Camrose agreed to the same wage increases as Alberta Health Services members received,” said Graham.
He said Good Samaritan Society has been dragging its feet through negotiations and they are now at the 20th negotiator on their side since negotiations started.
Graham said AUPE members have expressed concern not only for their wages, but for the impact short staffing has on residents.
“They care for the residents, the residents almost are an extension of the members family sometimes, so when you see an employer that’s continually running a facility short-staffed, residents don’t get their baths, they don’t receive the attention they need, they don’t get that personal care, they don’t get that touch,” said Graham.
Â He said they feel that one of the best ways to deal with short staffing is to pay workers a fair living wage and currently that’s not happening.
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