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Solidarity spreads during the pandemic

Healthcare union welcomes new members as 100 nursing care staff join AUPE.

Apr 14, 2021

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CALGARY – Alberta’s most underpaid and unprotected healthcare workers are hungry for better working conditions, as evidenced this week, when 200 hundred continuing-care workers from two different homes and employers voted to join the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) by mail-in ballot.
The newest group to join is a team of 100 licenced practical nurses (LPNs) and healthcare aides (HCAs) at Calgary’s Whitehorn Village, which is owned and operated by the private, for-profit company Origin. Earlier this week, workers at Sherwood Park’s Emerald Hills Retirement Residences, owned by Chartwell, also joined AUPE.
“The fight for quality affordable seniors’ care starts on the ground, with the working Albertans who support the elderly,” says AUPE Vice-President Bobby-Joe Borodey. “By negotiating better working conditions, employees pressure providers like Origin to funnel resources away from rich shareholders, real-estate moguls and equity firms, towards the people who need it – Albertans with high social, medical and mobility needs.”
Whitehorn Village’s staff banded together and petitioned to unionize, so they could fight for a fair, legally binding collective agreement with better wages, more robust staffing, protections against discrimination and overtime pay, to name a few improvements.
“When continuing-care workers can feed, clothe and house themselves and their families, then they can provide for residents,” adds Borodey. “You can’t join the fight for seniors’ rights if you’re unable to pay rent or if you’re understaffed and overworked to the point of burnout. That’s why these Whitehorn folks got organized.”
The frontline nursing care members work in independent living, assisted living and memory care supporting seniors, the disabled and the chronically ill who need a helping hand and require specialized medical attention throughout the day.
“We couldn’t be prouder of them for showing themselves and their coworkers the same care they provide to vulnerable Albertans,” says Borodey. “That’s solidarity in action, and it’s showing no sign of slowing as more Albertans like them, who are in this industry, realize they are their own advocates.”

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