EDMONTON – A decision issued today by the Alberta Labour Relations Board denies over 2,000 CUPE members the ability to be represented by the union of their choice.
The decision moves health care support workers in southern Alberta, currently members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), into a province wide union with other support workers represented by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees. The decision also moves about 1,000 paramedics into a bargaining unit of technicians and lab workers represented by the Health Science Association of Alberta.
“This decision takes away the right of our members to be represented by the union of their choice,” said Dennis Mol, President of CUPE Alberta. “It takes a health care system straining from a series of massive overhauls and adds more chaos and confusion.”
“I’m angered that the Conservative government and the Labour Board seem not to care about basic freedom of association we have under the charter of rights and freedoms,” said Mol. “CUPE will use all legal means at our disposal to fight this decision.”
In southern Alberta, CUPE members voted in the past to remain with CUPE. In 2005, AUPE applied to the LRB to raid employees of the Chinook Health Region, the employees voted by a 2-1 margin in favor of CUPE.
“I’m stunned that the Board has chosen to take this route,” said CUPE Local 408 President Carol Boklaschuk. “In a country where we cherish our democratic rights, the Labour Board chose to so clearly ignore our wishes.” Boklaschuk represents employees who used to work for Chinook.
Paramedic representatives Gerry Wiles, Rick Fraser, and Chris Murphy, all vowed to continue the fight.
“There’s no question this is a bad decision,” said Fraser. “Paramedics will spend a few days reviewing it carefully with our lawyers, and plan our next steps. This isn’t over.”