UNA seeks LRB order to direct Alberta Health Services to bargain in good faith

United Nurses of Alberta has filed a complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board seeking an order directing Alberta Health Services to bargain in good faith as required by law.

UNA was informed on Oct. 29 that the Government of Alberta had directed AHS to change its position in the wage reopener arbitration with UNA from no increase in 2019 to a wage rollback of 3 per cent.

“Employers cannot legally move backward on bargaining positions previously tabled in negotiations, particularly as they are sitting on an accumulated surplus of more than $1.3 billion,” explained UNA Labour Relations Director David Harrigan.

UNA is in arbitration with AHS, not the Alberta Government, Harrigan said, and at this time there is no legal basis for the government to instruct AHS to change its bargaining position.

Arbitration hearings for several unions had to be rescheduled in June after the government passed Bill 9, the Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act, which put all public sector contract arbitrations on hold until the end of October while the government’s MacKinnon Panel prepared its report. That included UNA’s, which was rescheduled for Nov. 22 and 23.

Harrigan said UNA has asked the LRB to schedule its hearing into the bargaining-in-bad-faith complaint as quickly as possible.

“Since we believe the new demands put forward by the government yesterday and passed on by the employer are the result of illegal bargaining in bad faith, that question needs to be resolved before the arbitration hearing is scheduled to take place on Nov. 22,” he said.

UNA represents more than 30,000 Registered Nurses, Registered Psychiatric Nurses and allied health care workers in Alberta, a significant majority employed in the public sector.