Health Unit Settlement
On January 27, 1986, the striking nurses in the five remaining health units returned to work with a negotiated Collective Agreement which included the City of Lethbridge and Wetoka Health Units. The gain in this long strike was primarily one of forcing the employers to withdraw the rollbacks from the table; and the striking nurses received a small wage increase. The major gain was one of putting the health unit employers on notice that this group of UNA members would stand tall in the face of regressions and takeaways. The long-term effects of the strike were not to be realized until the 1990 round of bargaining when the health unit nurses received a large wage increase that brought them to the equivalent of hospital wage parity.
After UNA striking health unit Locals ratified and signed their new Collective Agreement, the employers changed the dates of hire for all striking nurses to reflect the nearly ten months of strike action. This meant that the striking nurses had their seniority, their vacation entitlements, and their increment dates negatively impacted. At the same time, the employers in Sturgeon Health Unit, Athabasca Health Unit and Alberta East Central Health Units offered the nurses in those units all the gains contained in the new Group of Seven Collective Agreement and their dates of hire would remain unchanged, giving them all the benefits of not going on strike and all the benefits of going on strike. The UNA Executive Board took the position that the nurses in these three health units had the moral obligation to refuse the employers’ offer and remain working under the conditions of the Collective Agreement. The nurses chose to take the employers’ offer. The Local at the Sturgeon Health Unit voted to apply for successor rights and withdraw from UNA. The nurses in the Athabasca Health Unit and the Alberta East Central Health Unit were given time to apply for successor rights to protect their Collective Agreement and then UNA revoked their Charters.