Collective Agreements → Negotiations
UNA's 2016-17 Bargaining Committee. From left to right, seated: Diane Lantz, Co-chair, South Central District; Heather Smith, President; David Harrigan, Director of Labour Relations; Malcom Weisgerber, Co-chair, South District. Standing: Mark Cowan, Labour Relations Officer; Gwen Prusak, North District; Leslie Perry, South Central District; Lisa Hein, North District; Jamie Suchan, North Central District; Gail Pederson-Todd, Central District; Melinda Skanderup, South District; Jens Gundermann, North Central District; Heather Venneman, Central District.
UNA's approach to collective bargaining
Bargaining collective agreements is UNA’s most important job. This is because the agreements we negotiate with employers govern the pay, benefits and working conditions of all UNA members.
A collective agreement is a legally binding contract between a union, negotiating on behalf of a group of employees, and an employer. Typically, collective agreements set out such things as wages, scheduling rules, overtime pay, sick leave, job security, benefits and other employee rights.
Since it was founded, UNA has negotiated collective agreements that have greatly improved salaries, benefits and workplace conditions for all members. UNA has more than quintupled the wages of Alberta nurses since it was founded. In 1977, a new nurse earned only $6.28 an hour!
Members set UNA’s bargaining priorities
Before the expiry date of any UNA collective agreement, affected members can attend “demand setting meetings” at which the locals determine their bargaining proposals.
This is the process through which UNA’s members democratically decide their priorities in bargaining. UNA’s negotiating committees, the people who actually meet with the employer’s representatives at the bargaining table, are made up of working members of the union, elected by their co-workers to represent them.
UNA members vote on their agreements
No UNA agreement takes effect before the members whose working lives it governs have the opportunity to discuss and ratify it in a democratic vote. Province-wide agreements like the contract with Alberta Health Services must be subject to a vote of all affected members, and must be passed by a majority of both members and locals.