Asian health care worker in a labThe Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are encouraged by a Labour Relations Board decision that private companies must abide by existing collective bargaining agreements.

Alberta health-care workers will keep their pensions even if their jobs are privatized by the government. 

The Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) says DynaLIFE, the private company taking over certain public lab services, has an obligation to uphold terms in collective bargaining agreements – including pensions.

“We have successfully defeated an attempt by a for-profit health-care corporation to undermine the benefits of our members and the rights of union workers in Alberta,” said HSAA President Mike Parker. “DynaLIFE knew it had an obligation to keep health-care professionals whole as a part of the sale. It tried to get out of it to make more profit and has now been told it must honour our members’ collective agreement.” 

“This is a major victory,” added CUPE Alberta president, Rory Gill. “Everyone deserves a dignified retirement and corporations looking to profit off of the sale of public services cannot do it on the backs of workers and their pensions.”

DynaLIFE argued providing pensions for these 900 workers is “not a fit,” “unsuitable” and “impossible” for a private, for-profit employer. The ALRB was not swayed. HSAA and CUPE are now focused on getting Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP) members to accept DynaLIFE. If that doesn’t happen, DynaLIFE must work with us to find a similar, defined pension plan for employees.

“This whole process is an example of the importance of unions in protecting the financial security of members and advocating on their, and all workers’, behalf,” added Parker.

Gill points out it is particularly gross DynaLIFE attempted this when its major shareholder is the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System – a pension provider. “This is a precedent-setting decision and our unions will be working hard to ensure these members and all public sector workers keep their pensions regardless of their employer.”

Parker and Gill agree… the way to avoid harming public sector workers and threatening their financial security is to end failed experiments in privatization.

HSAA and CUPE represent more than 36,000 highly-trained and dedicated health-care professionals in Alberta.