More than a year since it began, about 800 nurses at seniors’ homes in Calgary have settled a bitter dispute with their employer and signed a collective agreement.
After enlisting a third-party arbitrator, the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE) and senior care facility operator, Carewest reached a deal on Oct. 10. The nurses had been without a contract since June of 2012.
“It was a difficult process, but in the end, the arbitrator agreed with most of our major arguments,” said Susan Slade, AUPE’s vice-president. “All we were asking for was for Carewest staff to be treated equally with Alberta Health Services (AHS) employees.”
Over the lifespan of the contract (which expires June 30, 2015), staff will receive a nine per cent wage increase as well as improvements to benefits, which the union said will align Carewest staff with other AHS workers.
Bargaining broke down earlier this year, and when both parties reached an impasse at mediation, they sought an arbitrator to intervene.
“It’s a fair and reasonable settlement,” said John Wevers, a staff negotiator at AUPE. “Carewest is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AHS. There’s no reason why they should be paid any differently.”
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