WATCH ABOVE: Despite 12 weeks on the picket line and two mediation sessions, there is still no resolution in a job dispute involving 30 health care aides at the Artspace Housing Co-op. Laurel Gregory reports.
EDMONTON – Board members at an Edmonton independent living facility have rejected a mediator’s recommendation to settle on a collective agreement.
Thirty health care aides at Supports for Artspace Independent Living – or SAIL – have been on strike since early May after the board and the union couldn’t negotiate a deal.
“With the rejection of the mediator’s recommendations the employer has sent a message that SAIL staff are worth less than employees doing the same work for other organizations,” said AUPE Vice President Mike Dempsey.
SAIL argues it would go bankrupt if it accepted the recommendations.
“If these recommendations were implemented, we would have a shortfall of $100,000 in the first year and up to $250,000 by 2016,” said SAIL president Roxanne Ulanicki.
The union claims the mediator heard both sides’ positions during two mediation sessions, including financial records presented by SAIL, and data presented by the union detailing wage and benefits with similar employers.
“SAIL’s financial arguments in mediation were simply not convincing. The expenses they presented changed from meeting to meeting, and their financial statements have not been audited in seven years,” said AUPE’s negotiator, Kevin Davediuk.
Nine days after the strike began the workers wanted to return to work, citing a concern that clients weren’t receiving the treatment they required, but they were turned away.
At the time, SAIL said they wanted the workers back but needed time to fit them back into the schedule.
The union says the situation has become more about the employer’s vendetta against staff for unionizing than bargaining for a reasonable agreement.
Artspace is a condo complex that houses 180 people. The aides help 30 disabled clients get dressed, as well as cook and provide medication for them.
AUPE argues staff are making about 20 per cent less than other aides in Alberta, and have no benefits or pension.
SAIL says it’s a non-profit corporation, so it’s offering the best it can under its financial circumstances, and it remains hopeful the two sides can come to an “affordable” agreement.
© 2014 Shaw Media