Symphony employees vote to strike

A near unanimous vote has put the union representing close to 130 employees at a Red Deer seniors living facility in a strike position.

A near unanimous vote has put the union representing close to 130 employees at a Red Deer seniors living facility in a strike position.

On Wednesday, licensed practical nurses, health-care aides and support staff at Aspen Ridge — represented by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees — voted in favour of strike action.

AUPE president Guy Smith said on Thursday that the employees are committed to giving families 72-hour notice prior to any strike action at the Symphony Senior Living facility at 3100 22nd St.

“It’s not the preferred approach by any means,” said Smith. “We would much prefer to get a negotiated agreement and we will continue negotiations with the employer. But I think the message is very clear that the workers’ frustration level is at the point they will take strike action if necessary.”

In a statement, Kim Van Dam, Symphony Senior Living vice-president of operations, said from Toronto that they are not surprised there has been a vote approving strike action.

“This is a common outcome and it does not mean there will be a strike,” she said.

“We think a strike is not in the interest of our employees.”

The two sides have been negotiating an agreement since 2011 and Van Dam said there has been much progress made in that time. They are scheduled for another mediation meeting on Jan. 16.

Smith said the sticking point in the negotiations so far has been salaries.

“Symphony, a company out of Ontario, has made it clear they want to maintain a 30 to 40 per cent profit margin to make their operation viable,” said Smith, adding the employer refuses to pay staff the industry standard wages.

Van Dam said while there has been general agreement on wages for most of the classifications employed at Aspen Ridge, AUPE is seeking significant pay increases for one classification in particular, about 40 per cent in less than five years for health-care aides.

“Such a pay increase would be unreasonable for most businesses and we need to protect our residents from cost increases,” she said.

“As most residents at Aspen Ridge do not receive any government funding, Aspen Ridge is not in the same market as other facilities with which AUPE is bargaining.”

Symphony receives some funding from Alberta Health Services as well as from the residents.

The union members, if they choose to strike, will offer life and limb support to residents in cases of emergencies. Smith said, while they are mindful of the care that residents at the facility require, it is on the employer to come up with a contingency plan for the residents’ care.

In the statement, Symphony said they are fully prepared in the event of a work stoppage to ensure there is no interruption in services to residents.

The company also owns and operates Symphony Senior Living Inglewood in Red Deer but that facility is not affected by the dispute.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Health Services Logo
AHS checking in with local businesses about COVID-19 plan

Alberta Health Services in the central zone is reaching out to local… Continue reading

FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2019, file photo, an iPhone displays the Facebook app in New Orleans. Facebook says it’s going all in to block the spread of bogus vaccine claims. In practice, that means the social network plans to ban a new bunch of false claims in addition to the old bunch of false claims about vaccines or COVID-19 that it has already banned. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)
Facebook says it will pay $1B over 3 years to news industry

Facebook says it will choose which publishers it will support

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

NDP and Liberals both promised some kind of pharmacare program

Photo radar cameras are supposed to “augment” the work of regular police officers, yet 91 per cent of speeding tickets in the province are connected to the devices. (Black Press file photo).
March photo radar locations

Photo radar, mobile units and intersection cameras will be in action

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

FILE - The Paramount Pictures gate is pictured on Aug. 23, 2016, in Los Angeles. The studio is joining other major Hollywood studios in slashing the traditional 90-day theatrical window. ViacomCBS on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, announced that the studio’s films, including “Mission: Impossible 7” and “A Quiet Place Part II,” will go to its fledgling streaming service, Paramount+, after 45 days in theaters. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
‘Mission: Impossible 7’ will hit Paramount+ even sooner

90-day theatrical window reduced to 45 days

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson yells to her sweepers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Defending champion Einarson stays unbeaten in Tournament of Hearts

Players suggest a spectator-free debut made it less intimidating

Tiger Woods hits out of a bunker on the 17th hole on his way to winning the Canadian Open Championship at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont. on Sunday Sept.10, 2000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘The Tiger I know is a survivor and a fighter,’ Bill Paul weighs in on Tiger Woods

Woods was hospitalized after a single-vehicle crash near Los Angeles on Tuesday

Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich (33) makes a save on Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) as Flames' Christopher Tanev (8) and Joakim Nordstrom (20) defend during first-period NHL action in Toronto on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson yells to her sweepers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

Most Read