Workers decry contract delay

Frustrated with stalled contract talks, some 150 senior care workers gathered at a lunchtime rally in Calgary on Wednesday. AUPE workers at Bethany CollegeSide and Bethany Sylvan Lake were among the crowd that protested their employer’s decision to postpone the mediated bargaining until late-September.

Frustrated with stalled contract talks, some 150 senior care workers gathered at a lunchtime rally in Calgary on Wednesday.

AUPE workers at Bethany CollegeSide and Bethany Sylvan Lake were among the crowd that protested their employer’s decision to postpone the mediated bargaining until late-September.

The talks were originally scheduled to happen in July.

Erez Raz, AUPE vice-president, said the employees have been without a contract since June 2014.

He said the rate of pay and working conditions for the employees is below industry standards.

“A lot of these employees are going elsewhere because they can get Alberta standards rate of pay for a health-care aide or LPN somewhere else,” said Raz. “It’s like a revolving door.”

Raz said the quality of care for residents suffer without an agreement that can attract and retain staff.

The union is in negotiations with Bethany Care Society for the seven facilities in central and southern Alberta.

AUPE represents roughly 1,100 employees including about 100 licensed practical nurses and health-care aides at CollegeSide and about 80 nursing staff at Bethany Sylvan Lake.

“We are ready to go back to the table,” said Raz. “At the end of the day I don’t think anybody wants to be in contract talks longer than you have to.”

Bethany CollegeSide has 112 long-term care beds and nearby CollegeSide Gardens has 108 beds at supportive living levels 1 and 2.

The union also launched a website, www.FairnessForBethany.com, encouraging residents to send a letter to their MLA about the importance of a fair contract for the employees.

Bethany Care Society was unavailable for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com