Message from the UNA Local 115 Executive (Dec 2009)

Message from President Kevin Champagne

Local 115 has made it through its first year with the new executive. This first year has been a great opportunity for all of us to develop relationships with members from the local. As an Executive, we want to thank everyone for their continued support.

This year has been filled with change. The employ-er has been coming with some organizational changes that have directly impacted us as Nurses. The province eliminated its nine former regions and became one super region, Alberta Health Services. With this change the Alberta Labor Board had tasked the province and union with making the necessary adjustments for a common collective agreement.

The union created a transitional negotiation commit-tee that was set up to address the variations in the collective agreements established in the nine old regional districts. This process did not go as planned. One of two agreements that both parties could reach, was the Voluntary Exit Letter of Under-standing. UNA brought this package to you the members, and was approved by over 70% of the members that came out to vote. The message given from the Executive Board of the union was for members to say yes to the package and then have no one apply. At this time there have been over 200 RNs in the province apply for the offer.

The employer has also changed the message it was giving the public. Nurses at one time in Alberta were facing a severe shortage. The province had been aggressively recruiting from other provinces and parts of the world. Offering current nurses financial incentives for bringing a nurse to the province into positions labeled hard to fill. Supposedly now, we are over staffed, not facing a shortage and are bracing for further position elimination in the region. We are preparing to face the same challenges as in the 90s, except we now have a government who is not concerned with the public’s perception as to the dismantling of health care. Senior AHS officials have been quoted saying, “nursing’s future is not in nursing’s hands”, and that we continue to have too many coffee and tea breaks. This
province is on the verge of losing a majority of its graduating nurses. When our Minister of Health visited a nursing class in Lethbridge, they were told to leave the province to find work. That they would come back, when positions are available. This is the man tasked with making health care stronger, more sustain-able for Albertans.

In November, the province had over 400 UNA delegates meet in Edmonton to attend demand setting. This was a great opportunity for all nurses to get an understanding of the real issues we are all facing today. Fortunately, UNA has never backed down from a fight that requires us to protect the public, and ensure we can continue to pro-vide the high level of care and safety standards Albertans have come to expect.

The message I would like to leave you with, is we need to stand together. Stay united and we will weather another storm. Health care is not for sale.

Kevin Champagne
UNA Local 115 President
Ph: 403-670-9960 Fax: 403-263-2908
e-mail: kchampagne@una.ab.ca

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