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DynaLIFE workers finally have new contract

After their old contract expired nearly a year and a half ago and stalling by the employer, HSAA finally have their first contract since the UCP government sold off Alberta Public Labs.

Last month, the Health Sciences Association of Alberta published a release on their website regarding their ongoing negotiations with DynaLIFE.

A little over two years ago, Alberta’s UCP government announced that they were selling off the publicly provided laboratory services to a private contractor, following months of lobbying by UCP donors.

As part of the deal, the public sector workers who would be transferred over to DynaLIFE would remain with the HSAA.

DynaLIFE had already been providing community lab services in the Edmonton region, as well as in parts of northern and central Alberta, since April 2021. And many of the workers already with DynaLIFE were also HSAA, which complicated things a bit, making two groups of HSAA workers employed at the company.

During the handover, the collective agreement for HSAA workers already employed with DynaLIFE expired (in March 2022, to be more precise).

After over a year of trying to make lives harder for HSAA workers (like trying to implement a two-tier wage structure and trying to whittle down pensions), DynaLIFE finally agreed to a tentative collective agreement with the HSAA bargaining team.

The media release that HSAA published last month had few actual details, so I reached out to Kirk Heuser, HSAA’s communications officer, for more information

According to Heuser, there will be a 4.75% guaranteed wage increase during the 3-year contract. That increase breaks down into two retroactive increases: 1% as of 1 April 2022 and 1.25% as of 1 March 2023. The remaining 2.5% will come into effect this October.

These wage increases will affect all classifications of workers and all steps in the wage grid.

Heuser also said that HSAA is projecting an unspecified increase next year. The actual percentage will depend on what HSAA workers who were at Alberta Public Labs manage to negotiate in their contract with DynaLIFE. HSAA anticipates that those workers will see an increase in 2024, and that increase get will be extended to HSAA workers who were already working at DynaLIFE.

Finally, by the last year of the collective agreement (2025), everyone should have wage parity with the previous Alberta Public Labs contract, which could amount to an average increase of 6%.

DynaLIFE has agreed to increase employer retirement contributions by 2% over the life of this contract, and the workers’ flexible spending account will increase from $1,500 year to $2,200 a year by March 2025.

Here are a few other improvement in the new tentative contract:

  • Improved employee travel mileage and time contributions
  • Increased vacation entitlements
  • Improved sick time benefits
  • 15 Hours off between Scheduled Shifts
  • 50/50 cost split on short-term and long-term disability
  • Improvements to health, safety, and wellness provisions to ensure proper plans policies and measures are in place

HSAA held a ratification vote for the tentative collective agreement on 30 June 2023. Turnout for the vote was 61%, and of those who voted, 79% chose to ratify the contract.

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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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