Extendicare facing strike

Health-care staff at Extendicare Michener Hill voted overwhelming to strike in a vote held on Wednesday.

Health-care staff at Extendicare Michener Hill voted overwhelming to strike in a vote held on Wednesday.

About 1,200 seniors care staff with Alberta Union of Provincial Employees are voting at eight Extendicare sites provincewide after Extendicare rejected the majority of a mediator’s recommendations for settlement.

AUPE negotiator Kevin Davediuk said 98.9 per cent of staff who voted in Red Deer voted to strike.

He said that AUPE has probably never achieved such a mandate before in its history.

As of Thursday, six of the eight Alberta votes have been held.

“The vote percentages for a strike are very similar to Red Deer. We’ve never had turnout or support like this in a strike vote,” Davediuk said on Thursday.

The last vote will happen in Athabasca on June 27.

The union says Extendicare is pushing for net earnings rollbacks; drastic reductions to sick time that would force staff to work sick, creating hazards for both staff and residents; and the lowest number of named holidays in any health-care agreement in Alberta.

It is the first time all eight Extendicare sites in Athabasca, Mayerthorpe, Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary and Lethbridge have bargained together.

Extendicare Michener Hill has 300 to 325 AUPE members. They include licensed practical nurses, health-care aides, therapy support staff, maintenance workers and food service staff. Registered nurses are not included.

Red Deer workers have been without a contract since Dec. 31.

Due to the magnitude of the dispute, the mediator has asked Extendicare and AUPE to meet again. Talks are set for July 2 and 5.

“If there’s not a deal by then, we’ll commence serving strike notice,” Davediuk said.

It would probably be some form of rotating strike, he said.

“We’re not going to put the system in jeopardy. We’re going to be real careful. Staff are very concerned about resident care and families.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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