Drayton Valley workers to vote on new contract

The new contract promises a 7% wage increase over 4 years, following a 1.75% increase during the previous 3 years.

Last week, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees announced that general support services workers in the Drayton Valley area had reached a tentative agreement with their employer, The Brazeau Foundation.

According to their website, The Brazeau Foundation provides affordable living for independent seniors and low to moderate income families.

This tentative contract will affect workers employed at the foundation’s Shangri-La Lodge, Lezure Lea, Spruce View Court, and Wishing Well Locations.

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These workers include caretakers, cooks, maintenance workers, activity coordinators, laundry workers, and housekeeping workers.

Included in the potential 3-year deal is a combined wage increase of 7%, broken down as follows.

1 June 20233%
1 June 20242%
1 June 20252%

That’s an average of 2.33% per year.

This follows an increase of only 1.75% during the entire life of their previous 3-year contract, which expired back in May. The first two years of that contract came with wage freezes.

That’s a combined 8.75% over a 6-year period.

1 June 20200.00%
1 June 20210.00%
1 June 20221.75%
1 June 20233.00%
1 June 20242.00%
1 June 20252.00%

Here’s a look at inflation for every June during the last 4 years:

June 20201.6%
June 20212.7%
June 20228.4%
June 20231.9%

We see that the combined wage raises from these two contracts are barely enough to cover inflation in June 2022, let alone all the other years. And that’s not taking into account what inflation will be like in June 2024 or June 2025.

While it’s a good think that these workers will ultimately make more money, if they ratify this tentative agreement, let’s not forget that wage increases that don’t keep up with inflation end up impoverishing workers.

Some other gains in this contract includes the top up of health/personal spending account to $1,000. Currently, full-time workers get $95, and part-time workers get between $600 and $900, depending on their full-time equivalency.

The following shift premiums will also get a boost:

These are hourly rates

Under the most recent contract, workers could carry over up to 60 days of sick leave into the following year. The new contract increases it by 25, for a new maximum of 85 days.

Bereavement leave in the previous contract was 5 days for various family members. The new contract adds aunts and uncles to the list, as well as nieces and nephews (and I assume other piblings and niblings); however, workers will get only 3 days of leave.

Finally, the tentative agreement includes new language to enable workers to carry over 5 vacation days  and to allow them to bank statutory holiday pay for the year, which then can be paid out during the last pay period in December.

Brazeau workers will vote on whether to ratify the new agreement on 11 September 2023.

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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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