Drayton Valley care home suspends union negotiator

The LPN sits on the bargaining team at her workplace and was suspended for 2-days without pay.

Earlier this week, the Alberta Labour Relations Board published their most recent new applications report. In it was an application that alleged a care home had suspended one of their workers for union involvement.

In an application dated 6 November 2023, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees claimed that Points West Living gave one of the workers at their Drayton Valley location a two-day unpaid suspension.

Points West Living operates assisted living facilities in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

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AUPE allege that Points West Living issued the suspension to Chelsie Nicolls because of her involvement in the union. Nicolls is a licensed practical nurse at the Drayton Valley facility, and sits on the bargaining committee for herself and her fellow coworkers.

The roughly 50 workers employed by Points West Living in Drayton Valley joined AUPE earlier this year, so the new collective agreement that Nicolls and the rest of the bargaining team have been negotiating will be their first collective agreement.

The bargaining committee gathered feedback this past summer from the Drayton Valley workers on which issues were most important to the during this bargaining process.

Negotiations began on 15 September and by this time last month, the bargaining teams for the employer and the workers had signed off on most of the non-monetary items and were getting ready to start discussing monetary items, such as wages, shift premiums, and overtime.

AUPE, in their application, accuse Points West Living, of suspending Nicolls for two days without pay “due to her membership in a trade union” and “due to her support for and activity in the union”.

They also accused Points West Living of “discriminat[ing] against Chelsie Nicolls because she supported the union and exercised her rights under the [Labour Relations] Code.”

The union argued in their application that these action violate several sections of the province’s Labour Relations Code, particularly paragraphs i, ii, and viii of section 149(1)(a):

No employer or employers’ organization and no person acting on behalf of an employer or employers’ organization shall refuse to employ or to continue to employ any person or discriminate against any person in regard to employment or any term or condition of employment because the person is a member of a trade union or an applicant for membership in a trade union, has indicated in writing the person’s selection of a trade union to be the bargaining agent on the person’s behalf, . . . or has exercised any right under this Act

They also claim that these actions establish that Points West Living “seeks by threats and intimidation or otherwise to compel employees to refrain from becoming members of the union”.

No hearing was included in the hearing schedule that ALRB published on their website this week.

The ALRB doesn’t archive their new application reports, so here is a copy of this week’s report.

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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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