The United Nurses of Alberta is recommending its members approve a tentative deal that includes a two-year wage freeze and job security.
The union, which represents 30,000 registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses, has set Feb. 15 for the ratification vote.
The three-year agreement would run retroactive from April 2017 to April 2020, and includes a wage re-opening provision in the third year.
David Harrigan, the UNA’s director of labour relations, said union delegates made the decision at a meeting Thursday.
“At the end of the day there was an overwhelming recommendation that we send it out and recommend that our locals accept and ratify this as the new collective agreement,” Harrigan said.
He said some union delegates were concerned about the wage freeze, but took into account the state of the economy and the provincial government’s finances.
Harrigan said union members are also mindful of Alberta’s political situation, including the upcoming 2019 provincial election.
“If the UCP (United Conservative Party) gets in they have made it clear that they want less spending, more privatization, and that is why job security may have been more important.”
Other proposed changes include creating an independent committee to assess concerns brought forward by nurses to improve patient care.
Alberta is facing a $10.3-billion deficit this year, and Finance Minister Joe Ceci has asked public-sector unions to consider zero wage increases while the province works to keep front-line jobs.
Last year, the government and the Alberta Teachers’ Association reached a deal that did not include salary increases for teachers.
© 2018 The Canadian Press