Message from President Kevin Champagne
UNA has strived to be strong advocates and change makers for improved working conditions for all Registered Nurses in Alberta since the conception of the United Nurses of Alberta in 1977.
It is hard for many of us to remember a time when nurses only made $6.28 per hour, but that was the case when we first sat down to bargain. Since that time, our collective agreement has seen improved changes to the language for the overall benefit of the nurse.
Some of the things that we attribute to the employer willingly giving to nurses are in fact hard fought victories that were won by UNA at the bargaining table. Improved scheduling provisions, shortened work weeks, no-working-alone agreements, Professional Responsibility and Occupational and Health committees, are but a few highlights of positive changes. This is not the only way that unions improve the work lives of our members.
We are an integral part of the labor movement in the province of Alberta, fighting for the social rights of all Al-bertans. Some examples of our cur-rent challenges that we are tackling; pay equality for women, racial equali-ty, sustainable public health care for all. Further, Collective bargained agreements can be used as a standard for other non-unionized workers, help-ing to increase the wages and benefits of other workers in the province.
Many people who will read this will think, that is fine and dandy, but what have they done for me lately?
In May 2011 the Canadian Labour Congress held its triennial convention in Vancouver, addressing the relevance of Unions in today’s workplace.
The basic realities that have led many workers to form unions have not changed. The employer and the union’s interests are coming from two different positions. UNA continues to fight for fair worker conditions, a reasonable amount of time off between shifts, vacation entitlement and appropriate wages. Over the last 30 years the grievances haven’t changed, only the volume.
It is important to be aware that every-day the union is working to protect nurses from unfair treatment. UNA is in a constant state of vigilance to protect the afforded rights provided under the current collective agreement. By creating and upholding these clear bar-gained agreements, it provides a better work environment for all. So the next time you agree to terms outside the collective bargaining agreement, please consider the impact that this has on all nurses and workers in Alberta!
President, Local 115
United Nurses of Alberta