New Brunswick

Votes cancelled after three nursing home unions reject final offer

Votes on a final offer for thousands of nursing home workers have been halted after union members at several homes voted to reject the offer.

Group representing homes says outcome of voting was clear, votes stopped

Votes at several nursing homes were cancelled after union members at three other homes voted to reject a final offer. (CBC)

Several votes on a final offer for nursing home workers have been halted after union members at three homes voted to reject the offer.

More than 4,100 nursing home workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees have been in a protracted contract dispute with their employer, represented by the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes. Workers voted to strike in March, but court proceedings prevented them from walking out.

In September, the province declared a final offer to the workers at 51 non-profit nursing homes that house more than 3,800 people.

That led to applications to the labour board for votes at several of the homes, each with its own union local. Union members in Néguac, Tabusintac, Inkerman and Shippagan were supposed to vote this week.

"After three votes were conducted, and the results were to reject the final offer, we withdrew the applications on behalf of the nursing homes because it was clear that continuing would not be in the interest of the residents," Jodi Hall, the executive director of the nursing home association, said in an email Wednesday. 

Jodi Hall, executive director of the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes, says she's not sure what comes next after the votes were halted. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

The New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions, which represents the locals, said in a news release Tuesday that the vote results from the three homes show an overwhelming rejection of the final offer.

Last week, union members at Villa Sormany in Robertville voted 90 per cent to reject the final offer while Foyer Notre Dame de Lourdes in Bathurst voted 93.4 per cent against, and York Manor in Fredericton voted 87.4 per cent against.

It's unclear if votes at other nursing homes will go ahead as scheduled.

Those homes are Foyer Assomption in Rogersville on Nov. 27, Foyer Saint-Thomas in Memramcook on Dec. 2, Villa du Repos in Moncton on Dec. 3, Villa Providence in Shediac on Dec. 4, and Forest Dale Home in Riverside Albert on Dec. 9.

"I'm not sure," Hall said when asked what happens next.

"We absolutely want an agreement." 

No further meetings are scheduled between the sides.

New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions president Sharon Teare, right, expressed frustration the votes were halted. (Michel Corriveau/Radio-Canada)

"Workers have had enough of stall tactics," Sharon Teare, president of the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions, said in a statement about the three votes being cancelled. "Anti-constitutional laws, futile bargaining sessions, legal battles, court delays, rejection of legislature votes and now this."

The halt in some of the votes comes as the legislature resumes with the government preparing to amend the Essential Services in Nursing Homes Act. 

The law became the subject of a constitutional challenge by the union at the labour board. A December 2018 decision found the law, which makes nursing home workers an essential service, violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

An ensuing court battle over the decision saw the New Brunswick Court of Appeal uphold a lower court ruling that confirmed the law violates the charter. 

The lower court decision gave the government six months to fix the law, a timeline that ends in January. 

About the Author

Shane Magee

Reporter

Shane Magee is a Moncton-based reporter for CBC.

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