Your bargaining committee wishes to thank the members of Villa Marie who showed strong resolve yesterday to stand up for a fair contract that protects quality of care for Covenant residents.

Approximately 85 per cent of the membership attended the bargaining update meeting, and even members currently on maternity leave made the effort to attend. One hundred per cent of those in attendance signed a strike petition endorsing potential strike action in the event that Covenant is not prepared to return to bargaining with meaningful proposals to reach a fair agreement.

Many other members also contacted committee members expressing their willingness to stay connected and involved in the process, despite being unable to attend the meeting.

Your committee is proud of the unity and resolve demonstrated by our membership. We know that if we do not stand up for a fair contract with competitive rates, we will continue to see shifts left unfilled and high staff turnover. We see every day how residents suffer when they cannot depend on long-term relationships with staff to ensure the quality of care that Alberta seniors need and deserve.

Since our meeting on Tuesday, Covenant has contacted AUPE and we have agreed to meet with them on Saturday, Nov. 21. However, your committee is unsure if a tentative agreement can be reached given the employer’s expressed desire to compare rates at these two sites to private sector providers such as Monterey Place and Chantelle Management (whose below industry standard rates and working conditions prompted long and bitter strikes in 2014/15), instead of looking to other Covenant sites where wages are closer to provincial averages.

Covenant’s decision to keep rates at Villa Marie and Holy Cross well below those at their other sites and up to 25 per cent below provincial averages is all the more troubling given they are well funded by Alberta Health Services. In the future, AUPE plans to raise these concerns about the accountability for Covenant’s use of taxpayer funds with Alberta Health Services and government representatives at Alberta Health.

A second meeting is planned with members from Holy Cross Manor in Calgary on Friday. Members should make every effort to attend this important meeting.

Given that we are entering the busy holiday season, we have also secured meeting room space in advance for Dec. 7 and 8.

Meetings on those dates could have one of two outcomes: either we would vote to ratify a tentative agreement (if we are able to reach one during mediated bargaining) or we would hold a formal strike vote. Please stay tuned for specific meeting times and locations.

As always, your bargaining committee is committed to keeping you informed throughout the bargaining process. Please do not hesitate to contact your committee members with any questions, comments or concerns you may have.

Your bargaining committee is:

Holy Cross – Calgary
Delia Datuin
Angelo Tan
Izzy Keenas

Villa Marie – Red Deer
Tina Larsen
Joanne May

Kevin Davediuk, AUPE Negotiator