Workers who care for seniors in eight seniors' care facilities operated by Extendicare could walk off the job next month.
The 1,200 employees represented by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees voted overwhelmingly in favour of going on strike. Results were 100 per cent in a couple of cases.
AUPE and Extendicare will meet with a mediator on July 5 in hopes of reaching an agreement. If nothing is settled, workers could give a 72-hour strike notice. .
Alberta Health Services provides funding to privately-operated facilities like Extendicare but the union says workers are paid less than their counterparts in publicly-operated facilities.
"That funding is directed towards salary, it should be directed toward salary, and it's not," said AUPE president Guy Smith.
"One of the things we've been struggling to do is bring those workers up to the same levels as AHS workers doing the same work in other facilities."
The group that represents private continuing-care providers believes that workers shouldn’t have the right to strike, just like their counterparts who work for AHS.
"We really need to have same kind of rules apply in long-term care facilities across the province, nursing homes across the province," said Bruce West from the Alberta Continuing Care Association.
"And we think the best approach would probably be the one that’s adopted for Alberta, that is binding-interest arbitration"
The Extendicare locations that could go on strike are in Edmonton, Calgary, Mayerthorpe, Red Deer, Lethbridge and Athabasca.