Employees at Red Deer’s Michener Centre have lodged a complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board regarding lost income because of an Alberta government policy during COVID-19. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Employees at Red Deer’s Michener Centre have lodged a complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board regarding lost income because of an Alberta government policy during COVID-19. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Michener Centre staff win compensation dispute with province

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says workers lost out on thousands of dollars

Front-line workers at Red Deer’s publicly-run home for persons with developmental disabilities are celebrating as a result of a policy-grievance arbitration decision.

Last week, an arbitrator determined that the Government of Alberta violated its own single-site order by implementing the measure in an unfair, unilateral and unreasonable manner, says the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).

The union says up to 90 Michener Centre staff missed out on thousands of dollars in income.

As a result of the arbitrator’s ruling, the employer must consult with staff and their union, the AUPE, to negotiate appropriate compensation and a reasonable process for mitigating the financial burden on employees. The single-site order will remain in place.

“This is a big win for vulnerable workers everywhere who love providing compassionate care, but don’t make enough money doing it and have to stretch themselves thin across multiple jobs just to feed their families,” says AUPE vice-president Bonnie Gostola.

On Aug. 24, 2020, the union filed a policy grievance against the province. Staff claimed they were pressured into selecting Michener as their sole job during the pandemic but didn’t replace their lost hours with regular and overtime hours, as per the Single-Site Order.

“The whole purpose of the order was to protect the sick, the disabled and their caregivers from the devastating financial and health effects of COVID,” said Gostola, “But at Michener, the UCP weaponized it to reduce the income of frontline heroes,” she claims.

“They exploited their power as politicians, at the cost of the care system that Albertans living with disabilities depend on. It’s hypocritical and shameful.”



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