Extendicare workers may strike by Monday

Workers at Michener Hill Extendicare in Red Deer may join with more than 1,200 seniors care workers in a provincewide strike.

Workers at Michener Hill Extendicare in Red Deer may join with more than 1,200 seniors care workers in a provincewide strike.

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees members at eight worksites in Alberta could legally strike by Monday morning.

According to AUPE, Extendicare Canada Inc. cancelled mediation scheduled for Tuesday and pulled out of the planned Thursday mediation session.

The union represents 358 staff at Michener Hill Extendicare. That is the most staff of any of the eight locations in a strike position.

“We were told this morning that Extendicare pulled out of mediation,” said AUPE president Guy Smith on Thursday.

“That’s added pressure to an already volatile labour dispute.”

Strike notice could be served as early as today and with a 72-hour notice period, pickets could be up by Monday. The union was scheduled to meet on Thursday night to discuss the next steps and then the union and bargaining committee will meet this morning at 10 a.m. to finalize plans.

“Our goal is always to come to a fair agreement without job action,” said Smith.

The current collective bargaining agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2012.

Michener Hill Extendicare workers voted 99 per cent in favour of strike action.

The Red Deer location consists of 220 continuing care beds and 60 supportive living beds.

In a press release, Smith said Extendicare is trying to manipulate the government into arbitration and their position is out of line with industry standards.

At the heart of the issue, according to AUPE, is that Extendicare is implying funding discrepancies with Alberta Health Services are dictating their position. But, contracts between AHS and Extendicare are kept secret, leaving AUPE skeptical about the claim.

Other locations that could face a strike by Monday are Extendicare Eaux Claires in Edmonton, Cedars Villa in Calgary, Mayerthorpe, Hillcrest in Calgary, Holyrood in Edmonton, Fairmont Park in Lethbridge and Athabasca.

Calls to Extendicare Canada Inc. were not immediately returned.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com