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HSAA workers approve new collective agreement

When accounting for inflation and 5 years of wage freezes, this new contract will result in what amounts to an effective wage cut of over 15%.

Earlier this week, Mike Parker and Leanne Alfaro, respectively the president and vice president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, emailed their members to let them know that HSAA workers had voted in favour of the mediated collective agreement with Alberta Health Services.

Prior to this agreement being approved by the membership, HSAA’s most recent collective agreement with AHS expired 31 March 2020, meaning that they’ve gone two years without a contract. On top of that, HSAA workers hadn’t seen any wage increases since 2015.

Originally,

AHS had proposed wage rollbacks for over half of HSAA workers, retroactive to 1 April 2020; however, the size of the rollbacks varied depending on profession.

Pharmacy technician-10.93%
Social worker-10.90%
Speech language pathologist-8.69%
Respiratory therapist-8.05%
Health information management professional-7.49%
Occupational therapist-5.39%
Pharmacist-5.10%
Therapy assistant-2.35%
Physiotherapist-2.33%
Diagnostic sonographer-1.87%
Dietician-0.88%
Advanced care paramedic-0.28%

That’s an average wage rollback of 5.36%.

The AHS bargaining team had refused to back down on these rollbacks, and negotiations ended up in a stalemate, pushing the parties to enter voluntary mediation.

Last month, the HSAA emailed their membership to say that the mediator’s report took the wage rollbacks “off the table and replaced them with the following recommendation for wage increases for all members, in all disciplines”:

disciplines”:

YearEffective dateIncrease
1st1 April 20200.00%
2nd1 October 20211.00%
3rd1 September 20221.25%
4th1 April 20232.00%

While these wage increases are better than the rollbacks that AHS has proposed, they’re significantly less than the increases HSAA’s bargaining team had originally proposed.

  • 2020: 2.6%
  • 2021: 4.2%
  • 2022: 4.74%
  • 2023: 3.66%

The mediator’s report had also proposed that HSAA workers received a COVID pandemic lump sum of 1% for every hour worked in 2021.

After holding several telephone town halls earlier this month, the HSAA bargaining team facilitated voting for its members, which ended this past Monday.

According to this week’s email, less than half of the members voted, but of those who did, 85% voted in favour of the agreement.

This 4-year agreement is effective as of 1 April 2020, which means it’ll expire in 2024. As a result, the HSAA bargaining team gets only a short break before they’re back at it late next year in anticipation of the next contract.

When we include the 4 years of wage freezes while the NDP were in power, HSAA workers will average a raise of 0.53% per year over the life of this new contract and the previous contract combined, for a total of 4.25%.

And during those 8 years (between June 2015 and June 2022), inflation rose by 20% in Alberta. Which means, this small increase is effectively a wage cut of 15.75%.


I received a copy of the email, which you can read below.

HSAA members who are covered by a Collective Agreement with Alberta Health Services have voted to endorse the tentative agreement that was announced on June 30, 2022. This agreement will be in effect as of today and covers the period of April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2024.



49% of eligible voters cast a vote with 85% voting to accept the agreement.



Details of the agreement and links to Telephone Town Halls where members’ questions were answered can be found here. If you still have questions about how this new agreement will affect you, please contact the Members’ Resource Centre at mrc@hsaa.ca or by calling 1-844-280-4722.



Preparation for the next round of bargaining begins now. We expect to give notice to the Employer for the next round of bargaining in just under 18 months. Before that time we will be reaching out to you to get your input on the priorities for the next round of bargaining.



We would once again like to thank the bargaining committee for all their efforts. They were: Leanne Alfaro (Chair), Jason Soklofske, Kelly Garland, Ilea Kapler, Jenalyn Myggland, Linda Van Haar, Trevor Puritch, Wayne Button, Marnie Stuart, Todd Romanow and Sheena Schiemann.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on municipal, provincial, and federal politics, specializing in investigative journalism and critical analysis from a leftist political lens. He also writes regular editorials on general politics and social issues.

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