Employees at a Calgary, Alberta social services agency have a union contract after a hard organizing battle with accusations of unfair labour practices against the employer.

Alpha House is a not-for-profit society providing addiction and housing services to people in Calgary and Lethbridge. About 300 employees joined CUPE in the late spring of 2021.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill said that after initial battles with Alpha House during the unionization drive, bargaining proceeded respectfully and employees were able to achieve sought-out scheduling changes.

“With a collective agreement in place, these employees now have the schedules they need to have a better work-life balance,” said Gill.

Gill noted that the social services sector is known for low pay, long hours and unrealistically unsafe working environments. “Our new members have an uphill battle making life better for themselves and their clients – but they’ve taken a few important steps in the right direction.”