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Government rules for forced union votes has health care workers angry

Edson Bill 27 is the latest blow in a long round of punches taken by health care workers in this province, says Sandra Miller, a licensed practical nurse at the Edson Hospital and member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Government budget cuts, contracting out and more threats of privatization have all combined to demoralize and overwork health care workers. Bill 27 continues that trend says Miller.

Bill 27 creates one bargaining unit for each of four functional occupational groups for each of the nine new health regions. Health care workers will vote on union representation with a mail-in ballot sent to their homes in June. The results of the votes will be made public in September.

Miller learned recently that she has no choice for union representation due to the rules put in place by the government for the upcoming vote. She has written an open letter to Clint Dunford, Minister of Human Resources and Employment, protesting the un-democratic nature of Bill 27. The letter is enclosed.

Not only does Bill 27 strip health care workers of collective bargaining rights, your [government] regulations allow you to determine by your own methodology, which unions are on the ballot when it comes to casting our vote for our representation, she said.

Minister, you are not a unionized employee and therefore, perhaps you do not understand the importance the choice is to me and my co-workers, said Miller in her letter. Representation is both our choice and our right.

Outlining the reasons she has chosen her union and the importance of union representation to health care workers, Miller notes, Regardless of the reasons, the most important principle that we are losing today is in fact our ability to choose.

While CUPE is on the ballot for the vote by general support workers, the union to represent auxiliary nursing staff in health region 7 has been declared by the government without a vote.

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CUPE is Canada’s largest union with over half a million women and men who provide public services. In Alberta, CUPEs 32,000 members work in health care, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities, museums, libraries, emergency medical services, social services and casinos. Visit our CUPE websites for more information www.cupe.ca and www.cupealberta.ab.ca

For further information:
Pam Beattie CUPE Communications (780) 484-7644 or (780) 288-1230 - cellular