- Do NPs HAVE to unionize? If the vote fails to achieve 40% - once we get to that stage for either group UNA vs NPAAU - can we not just continue the way we are? Historically, NPs in Alberta were not able to unionize. When the Alberta Labour Relations Code was amended on October 30, 2020, it gave NPs their own bargaining unit and the ability to unionize if they choose to. If NPs choose not to unionize, the Alberta government will not be required to negotiate with any group of NPs or their employers and NPs will continue to be at the mercy of others dictating their salaries, working conditions, benefits, and more. If NPs instead choose to unionize, the Alberta government will be required to negotiate with the certified bargaining agent chosen by each group of NPs employed across the province.
- How will the NPAAU ensure members' wishes are represented? The NPAAU consists of representative board members who have the responsibility to reach out to the members in their regions and bring forward their needs and concerns. As always, NPAAU will continue to receive input via email, social media, surveys, and our website regarding anything of importance to our members. More than ever, this is an organization for the members, by the members.
- Will the new union keep working to improve NP practice across Alberta? NPAAU wishes to have all NPs under one umbrella, to optimize the impact that the union and NPs can have. We will be moving forward with advocacy regarding issues key to AHS (likely our first bargaining group), as well as those in other sectors, such as private practice and primary care. NPs have unique issues and they need unique representation.
- Who is Alberta Counsel and why did we pick them? How do we get the legal advice we need, since we are not lawyers? Alberta Counsel has significant experience lobbying for some of the largest unions and other organizations in the Province of Alberta. In fact, they were the ones successful in facilitating government changes to the Alberta Labour Relations Code to allow for the Nurse Practitioners to have an independent voice in the first place. Their relationships and experience with both the governing party and the opposition will be instrumental in the bargaining process. Furthermore, the two principals (both lawyers) have experience in negotiating Collective Bargaining Agreements. We selected Alberta Counsel because of their experience, their familiarity with the elected officials, and their ability to serve all of the association’s needs efficiently, ethically, and cost-effectively. Alberta Counsel has experience working with other groups throughout the process of union formation and has resources from within the labour field (including experienced union organizers). Bargaining will require both a legal and lobbying component – Alberta Counsel can perform both functions. In addition to the team at Alberta Counsel, additional members have been added to the bargaining team including Michelle Henderson and David Froelich, both of whom bring key labour and bargaining experience.
- What will NPAAU’s approach to bargaining be? The NPAA advisory team has advised a professional, collaborative approach with employers during bargaining, much like NPAA currently does with their advocacy work. The Government of Alberta has taken a bold first step in recognizing the unique status of NP. Starting in a toxic position will immediately prevent positive negotiation. Collaboration is something that Nurse Practitioners have taken pride in. In fact, aggressive tactics pose a risk of ruining a growing relationship that respects an NP’s role between physicians and RNs; a negative approach will almost certainly delay and hurt the chances of a successful negotiation.
- Who is eligible to become an NPAAU member? How can NPs show support? Any NP (including students) who is interested in participating in the process of improving NP Scope of practice, working conditions, and advocacy would be welcomed to become a member, as well as a volunteer. NPs can show support by purchasing the $5 membership available on our website. This $5 fee is required by the ALRB to identify your support for the union. It is also mandated by the ALRB that supporters sign a membership card (which will be emailed upon your payment). It is important to note that this is not funding NPAAU’s union organizing process. That is being funded by our resources and agreement with our lobby/legal firm.
- How can I help as an NP? Buy a membership here! Spread the word and volunteer. Talk about the good work NPAA has done for NPs over the past decade. Building on this work is critical. Let us not lose momentum. You can help bring information to NPs in your work area who are not currently NPAAU members. You can volunteer on committees, and help to plan continuing education, conference, and other advocacy activities. The role of the NPAAU will remain as advocacy for the members, by the members, all while providing proper representation to NPs throughout the province.
- What will the dues be? Can NPAAU afford to move forward? The union dues for NPs are set to 1% of their salary per year payable monthly. Since NPAAU is a smaller organization, there are lower expense costs compared to a larger organization. There is not a large management team that is paid salaries, and no requirement for a large building that increases leasing costs, etc. In our minds, every dollar spent on those items is a dollar not spent on advocating and bargaining for nurse practitioners. If the current health crisis has taught businesses and unions anything, it is about how little we need to spend on the maintenance of large-scale physical infrastructure. There is more than enough money for bargaining and operations to move forward with NPAAU. See our budget.
- Why shouldn't we pick a union that is already established? We are very pleased that nurse practitioners have been uniquely recognized to have their own voice. Rather than having nurse practitioners subsumed in an organization that would swallow us whole and makes us disappear, we will be able to advocate for our own unique priorities. We would only, and zealously, advocate for NPs: full stop. The NPAAU would have no competing interests in terms of employment or conflicts of other health professionals. In NPAAU’s opinion, merely having a separate local within a bargaining agent is not sufficient. The start of a union, led by NPs for NPs, would be much leaner and ensure that the new entity does not have any of the potential baggage of other bargaining agents. It is very likely that NPs (who number 600+) would have virtually no say or influence on budgets or direction in a union of 30,000 members.
- What is the timeline for NPAAU? When must NPs make a decision about their desired bargaining unit? NPAAU needs to demonstrate they have 40% support of AHS NPs to request a vote from ALRB. We are required to wait 60 days from the day we were granted union status. Therefore, our goal is to get as many NPs to sign on as soon as possible prior to the end of that 60 day period to demonstrate the degree of support from front-line NPs. For more information on the details of our timeline, please click here.
- How will the union affect my salary and benefits? Will my wage not be frozen anymore? These issues will be determined through the bargaining process; we are not yet able to comment on exactly how salary and benefits will be changed. However, the wage freeze will be one of the first issues that NPAA recognizes needs to be addressed and is a top priority. We know other unions have been advocating for increases in pay for other health professionals, such that NP salaries will continue to be lower than those of others. In our negotiating, we will only be advocating for NPs.
- Can NPs in AHS/Covenant Health opt-out? NPs may opt-out but are still required to pay union dues. We trust that NPs across the province will receive and still see the value in the advocacy work.
- Are funding models outside of AHS/Covenant still a priority? Obtaining new funding models for that outside of the large health authorities is essential for full utilization of NPs across the healthcare system. We are already working with the Ministry of Health on these initiatives.
What about NPs in private practice, what role will they have? NPAAU plans to work along with private practice NPs to optimize funding models and working conditions for them. Any NP in a private practice role is welcomed to participate in advocacy work alongside employer-based NPs.
- How will establishing a union affect my practice if I work in private practice? It is a priority of the NPAAU to work towards a fee schedule approved by third-party insurers, as well as alternate funding models for NPs regardless of where they work This will be extremely helpful for private practice NPs as well as NPs in other areas of practice within the province.
From the President of the NPAA, read the History Letter here.
Please click here to read the Constitution.
If you have further questions regarding NPAAU, we encourage you to join our weekly online meetings on Tuesdays @ 4 PM via ZOOM.
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