Care home office staff to vote on 21% raise

These workers unionized in the summer of 2021, and this will be their first wage increase in “a very long time”.

Last week, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees published a bargaining update on their website regarding a first contract for office staff employed at a care home provider.

This is the first time these workers, who are employed with Carewest, have negotiated a contract since joining AUPE in July 2021.

Based out of Calgary, Carewest operates from 14 locations, where they offer long-term care, rehabilitation and recovery services, and community programs and services. They are one of the largest public care providers in Canada and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alberta Health Services.

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(Tangentially, Carewest may be at risk of being sold off in the UCP’s bid to restructure Alberta Health).

According to AUPE, these workers had gone “a very long time without receiving any wage increases”. Armed with worker feedback gather in the spring of 2022, the bargaining team got to work trying to remedy that.

The team—which includes someone who’s been with the employer for over a decade, a unit clerk, and a receptionist—was able to negotiate a 19.5% wage increase for these workers, retroactive to when they unionized.

Here’s how the raise breaks down by year.

20 July 20217.5%
1 July 20224.0%
1 July 20234.0%
1 July 20244.0%

Technically, due to cumulative increases each year, the combined bump in salary will actually come to 20.9% by the end of the 4-year contract.

The bargaining team also negotiated changes to the health and dental benefits for their fellow coworkers.

For example, as of this upcoming January, Carewest will pay 75% of health and dental premiums for these workers. As well, the workers will be moved from the Management Exempt plan, where they previously were, and rolled into the Carewest GSS group benefit plan.

Also as of the new year, these workers will be entitled to a $950 flexible spending account, which they can assign to health spending, RRSP/TFSA, or personal spending with usual and customary categories. The account will be annually pro-rated to full-time equivalent for regular (permanent, non-casual) workers.

Finally, the bargaining team also negotiated up to 30 days of vacation time for regular, full-time workers, based on the length of their continual employment.

0–5 years20 days
6–15 years25 days
16+ years30 days

This new contract, which expires next October, will apply to only a small group of only a dozen office workers, but they include receptionists, unit clerks, business services assistants, education services assistants, and staff schedulers.

AUPE plans to hold a virtual ratification meeting on Microsoft Teams between 18:00 and 19:00 on Monday, November 20, 2024. The ratification vote will follow immediately after this meeting.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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