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Spotlight on Bargaining: AHS and Covenant Health

The biggest health care employers are also the biggest bullies at the bargaining table. AUPE members must take action if we want more than what they’re offering

Jun 27, 2024

By Alexander Delorme, Communications Staff

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Do you think you deserve higher wages that keep up with inflation? Benefits that give you peace of mind? Schedules that allow for more work-life balance? Job security that you can count on? 

Your employer doesn’t. 

Over 82,000 AUPE members are bargaining this year, and so far our employers have refused to offer us anything close to what we deserve. 

Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health are especially bad. Two of the largest employers in the province are also two of the biggest bullies at the bargaining table. They have tabled the same proposals as the Government of Alberta, for the most part, but take the disrespect a few steps further. 

“They call us health care heroes, but they treat us like zeroes,” says AUPE Vice-President Bonnie Gostola, who works as a health care aide. “AUPE members give so much for this province, for our fellow Albertans, but all our employers do is ask us to do more with less.” 

The Covenant Health nursing care and general support services negotiating teams are shocked by their employer’s behavior at the bargaining table. Covenant Health has been radically disrespectful, clearly disinterested in finding solutions to the problems we face at work. 

Covenant Health only recently changed their tune, acting a bit more respectfully after our negotiating teams told the truth about their actions at the table. 

"We provide critical, life-saving care to Albertans across the province, and our employers should pay and treat us accordingly.”
Bonnie Gostola 2023

AUPE Vice-President Bonnie Gostola

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Alberta Health Services even told our nursing care team that it is “mathematically impossible” for our members to receive better schedules and work-life-balance. If that is so impossible, you would think AHS would fix their recruitment and retention crisis by offering the best wages and benefits possible, by striving to be a model employer. Unfortunately, they are not interested in those solutions. 

“Health care workers are used to stress and tough hours,” says Gostola. “But why make things harder than they have to be? We provide critical, life-saving care to Albertans across the province, and our employers should pay and treat us accordingly.” 

With such a wide gap between our proposals and our employers’ proposals, it is increasingly likely that AUPE members will need to act to win the wages, benefits, and improved working conditions we deserve. 

Rallies are being planned across Alberta, and all AUPE members are invited. The first ones kick off in early July and will continue all through the summer until September 7, when we will have a huge rally in Edmonton. 

With so many members in bargaining, including workers in health care, provincial government services, education, as well as boards, agencies, and municipalities, there has never been a better time for all 95,000 AUPE members to fight alongside each other. 

“We pride ourselves on having each other's backs. Now is the time to prove it,” says Gostola. “We talk a big game about supporting each other in bargaining. Now is the time to act on that commitment.” 

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