AUPE, feeling under threat, responds to Labour Relations Board application

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) is standing firm in backing its members who are nurses in reaction to a recent request made to the Alberta Labour Relations Board that could change the union that these nurses belong to.

On April 25, 2023, five nurses, known as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), who work for Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Covenant Health, submitted their request to change their union. If they get their way, it will cause a big shake-up in Alberta’s healthcare system, moving the LPNs from AUPE to another union called the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA).

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Susan Slade

Susan Slade

Susan Slade, who is both an LPN and the Vice-President of AUPE, stressed how important LPNs are in healthcare in Alberta. She warned that if LPNs are forced to change unions, it could make their working conditions worse. She said, “The recent Labour Board application worries us because, if it’s approved, it would unfairly force LPNs out of AUPE and lead to worse working conditions for these workers, who all deserve better.”

To deal with this situation, the AUPE arranged three phone meetings on July 5 and 6, where AUPE members from all over the province could join in to talk about what this request to the Labour Board could mean for them.

Slade said, “I’m glad to see so many members getting involved, asking questions, and sharing their thoughts on this issue. We knew it was important to talk with our members and share information about this issue.”

AUPE pointed out data showing that LPNs in places with similar bargaining units to Alberta’s tend to get paid more and have more job opportunities. LPNs who are part of AUPE have seen their wages go up by about 130 percent over the last 23 years, which is almost 30 percent more than the wage increases that Registered Nurses (RNs) have had over the same time. The wage difference between LPNs and RNs has shrunk by nearly 25 percent.

Slade said, “Our main goal is to build our combined strength so that we can go into the next round of bargaining with strong demands that AHS and Covenant Health have to take seriously. LPNs in Alberta deserve more, and that’s what we’re fighting for.”

AUPE is the biggest union in western Canada, with over 95,000 members. Two-thirds of these members work in healthcare, and about 11,000 of them are LPNs.

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