Extendicare ratifies contract for workers

Extendicare has ratified a deal affecting 275 workers at the Michener Hill seniors complex on the east end of Red Deer.

Extendicare has ratified a deal affecting 275 workers at the Michener Hill seniors complex on the east end of Red Deer.

Rebecca Scott, Toronto-based communications officer with Extendicare, said on Thursday that the company approved the contract that workers had accepted on Wednesday.

The first contract agreement between the company and employees formally allows front-line workers to address quality of care with management, provides wages competitive with those paid to direct employees of Alberta Health Services and introduces a three per cent matching employer RRSP contribution, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees said in a statement released after the majority of workers supported it.

“We had a look at it when we got it in and we have decided to ratify it,” said Scott. “We’re really pleased to have reached a deal with AUPE.”

The workers had been without a contract since last September when Extendicare Michener first starting taking residents. The facility includes 280 beds, of which 220 are for continuing care and the balance being supportive living.

Contract talks had broken down and members voted to go on strike in February, but agreed to take part in mediated talks rather than walk off the job.

When mediation failed, Alberta Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk appointed a Dispute Inquiry Board with lawyer David Phillips Jones as its sole member to intervene.

A Dispute Inquiry Board allows both parties to explore all avenues open to them to clarify the issues and find an agreeable solution without resorting to a strike or lockout.

Union president Guy Smith said earlier that the round of negotiations will become a model for bargaining with other private sector employers.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com