NBNU president Paula Doucet said the union was forced to file a complaint with the New Brunswick Labour Board on May 13.
On Feb. 10, the union and 500 members ratified and signed an agreement after a three-year ongoing negotiation. At the time, Doucet said the association agreed to sign the deal.
The specific details of the collective agreement remain unknown.
“It’s very unfortunate that we have to take this path to speak out today against the injustice and lack of respect experienced by our members in the long-term care sector,” she said, speaking to reporters on Monday.
She said the association did not provide the union with a reason for why the agreement hadn’t been ratified and signed on that end, prompting the complaint.
“It is now May 16th, we are still waiting for our counterpart, the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes, to conclude its job and have it ratified and signed by their members,” she said.
“We are here today to ask what has taken so long and why.”
The complaint falls under the Industrial Labour Relations Act.
“The fact that our members are being treated so unfairly and are expected to continue to show up to work and provide care day after day again shows the shortcomings of this sector,” Doucet said in her statement.
She described the action by the association as a “refusal to sign the deal.”
Doucet also said the previous CEO, Norm Bosse, left suddenly and without notice — leaving even more questions for the union.
The association did not address whether Bosse was still with the association.
Micheal Keating, the acting CEO of the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes, disputes that statement, saying there is no refusal to sign on the association’s part.
“There is a particular section that involves a bit of finance that we’ve been dealing back and forth with government on, and we have a commitment from them that we’re going to have this finalized by the end of the week, Friday, because we understand the frustration of the nurses,” he said, speaking to Global News by telephone Monday.
He said he believes once that is resolved, with a deadline of Friday, the complaint won’t move forward because the association will be in compliance.
“That’s the extent of it,” he said. “The nursing homes didn’t want to sign it until they had that particular issue and it’s dragged on a bit and it’s now become top priority for us to get it finalized.”
Ronda McCready, the union’s unit representative for long-term care, told reporters during the press conference on Monday that after several years of negotiation, the association is making things more difficult.
“Our seniors in New Brunswick do not deserve less,” she said. “They don’t deserve less care hours, less unregulated health-care workers, less dignity and care in palliation, less resources. We need help in this sector now more than ever.”
The Department of Social Development said in an email statement Monday that it “has been engaged in the most recent discussions between the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes and the New Brunswick Nurses Union.”
It said the department is actively assisting in the resolution of the outstanding issues. The NBNU did ask for the department to intervene, according to Doucet on Monday.
“The employer is now in the process of ratification. The province is working with the Association, and hopes to have the agreement ratified in the coming days,” the departmental statement said.