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Time for Action Rallies - All details

Members in Action: Taking it up a notch

Members in Camrose and South Edmonton organized rallies to show they mean business. This is how we take our fight to the next level.

Jun 27, 2024

By Raphaël Boutroy, Communications Staff

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Bargaining is in full swing, and many AUPE members are fighting for better collective agreements at this very moment. Members in the health sector recently made a lot of noise, showing up for themselves and the care Albertans deserve.  

Covenant Health has been especially disrespectful at the bargaining table, and members in Camrose aren’t happy about it. They organized a rally at St. Mary’s Hospital on May 30 in protest, where not even the rain could silence their voices. They chanted. They sang. They marched. They showed Covenant Health they were fed up with all the disrespect. 

AUPE Vice-President Darren Graham explained the situation: “This is not the same covenant that we have dealt with in the past. They pride themselves on their services but have no respect for us and the care we provide.”  

Covenant Health’s behaviour is shocking, according to Graham. 

“They are aggressive and disrespectful. They have a clear disregard for processes; they won’t even talk about the simplest things in our collective agreement.”
Darren Graham 2023

AUPE Vice-President Darren Graham

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Sadly, Covenant Health’s actions affect both workers and patients. The quality of our working conditions directly affects Albertans’ care conditions. We can only do the best we can with the resources and staffing our employers give us. 

On their website, Covenant Health claims to care for the “Whole person – body, mind, and soul.” How can they expect to do this when their own staff suffer?  

A Question of Integrity  

To Graham, the disrespect at the bargaining table is simply unacceptable. 

“When you are an employer who prides yourself on your integrity and your mission, you would expect to see that in how you treat your staff,” he says. “You would expect to see that at the bargaining table.” 

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. AUPE members working in health care throughout the province are being told the same things by their employers. They want to dictate what we’ll settle for, but we will not let this happen. 

“We must work together,” says Graham. “Our solidarity will show employers that they cannot get away with these kinds of offers.” 

Members make noise in south Edmonton 

Members at the Devonshire Care Center in Edmonton showed off this solidarity. Shockingly, their employer cut all full-time hours nearly in half. That’s right: all full-time health care aides lost full-time hours. Members responded with a huge rally on May 23. 

“We must voice our concerns,” says Graham. "We are letting the employer and the public know that this is in no way acceptable.”  

"We must be united, and we must support each other when we face these problems. The more voices we have, the more powerful everything we do will be.”
Darren Graham 2023

VP Darren Graham

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AUPE members could be heard up and down the street. Cars and buses honked all afternoon as members sang Solidarity Forever. Albertans know how important our struggles are, and they showed it. 

“The support feels great,” says Graham. “I know that other locals and chapters are also facing challenges. We must be united, and we must support each other when we face these problems. The more voices we have, the more powerful everything we do will be.”  

At the very same moment members were rallying at Devonshire, Alberta's Minister of Health, Adrianna LaGrange, stood up in the Legislature and denied that their hours were being cut. In fact, she claimed that the hours were even being increased. 

We are not going to put up with this. Our employers can be bad enough. The last thing AUPE members need is members of the government denying how poorly they manage public services. 

For Graham, the path forward is one paved with solidarity. It is going to take lots of rallies, and several other forms of action, to win better wages and working conditions at the bargaining table. 

“Wear red, take education courses, and come rally,” he says. “Let’s keep fighting. If we don't, our employers will not give us what we deserve.” 

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