Friday, June 16, 2017

Cold Lake Points West Living Lock-Out Post # 5-----STOP THE RIP-OFF!-------POINTS WEST LIVING COLD LAKE Too often it is left to workers in private seniors care facilities to demand accountability from their employers and insist on respectful treatment of both workers and residents alike. That’s what’s happening at Points West Living Cold Lake, but instead of addressing the workers’ concerns about short-staffing, scheduling and training, the company has locked out its regular employees in a bid to drive down wages and working conditions. The resolve of these committed frontline workers is exposing the deeper crisis in Alberta’s seniors care system that allows for-profit operators to pocket public funds with no transparency or accountability. Let Points West Living and government representatives know that this situation is unacceptable. Use the form letter below or change the text to include a personal message.---------------'We were given a mandate of one per cent per year, for three years — far less than any other union has received, far less than government gave its own employees.'- Vickie Kaminski, in her resignation letter---------



Julie Ali
Just now

The Cold Lake Points West Living terminations issue is an interesting issue because it shows us the reality of the work in the continuing care system. We have the GOA with its full complement of NDP MLAs first screwing workers in the AHS collective agreement as per the Kaminski. Then we have the next stage of the business which is the failure to do anything about the mass terminations at the Cold Lake facility which is now using a sort of outsourced group of folks to do the w
ork when the employer simply could have done the right thing and come to an agreement with the Cold Lake workers as was done with the Vegreville workers.
The NDP folks who support the NDP MLAs are in dissonance mode if they understand the set up. Do they understand that there was a whole pile of bullshitting going on by the NDP MLAs that we hired that is now shown to us as it is -a pile of manure? Or do the NDP faithful cling to the remnants of their illusions as they go look for new jobs? I'm curious.

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Usually in terminations unions serve the employer to make the terminations legitimate and irreversible.
In the Cold Lake Points West Living terminations, the employer failed to avail itself of the services of the union and unilaterally terminated the entire crew for reasons known only to the employer.
As far as I can tell, the employer is entitled to do whatever the employer wants to do even if this petty act of what appears to be retribution does not look good to the public.
What will the union do in this matter? I don't know if it can do anything other than get the public roused (yet again) from its apathy about continuing care and get the NDP folks in the GOA to stand by the very folks who got them into power. I doubt that the NDP folks in the GOA will stand by the AUPE folks since they already screwed them in the AHS collective agreements where the CEO was told to bargain below what AHS has been prepared to provide to the NDP faithful.
So based on the track record of the NDP folks screwing the very folks who got them to power I think this termination will stand. The PC arranged contracts with private providers will stand. There will be no retroactive contract creation of that was proposed for the electricity dispute and we will be having the same old same old in the continuing care system as we have had for the past 44 + 2 years in Alberta.
The only useful aspect to the unions is when they diverge from supporting the government to showing us the reality of work in the continuing care system which is what AUPE is doing in this case. In my opinion, this is a rare bird that is flying over head and we should all take our binoculars out and do some sustained bird watching of the sort that I am doing in this dispute.
I am curious about this dispute because of the issues that it has raised of dissonance, loyalty, bullshit monitoring and such like. How do the NDP folks in government who were helped to power by the unions like AUPE feel about their role in screwing the AUPE workers via the AHS folks? How do the NDP folks in government --feel about the failure to help the AUPE folks in the Cold Lake terminations? How do all NDP supporters feel about the divergence between what the NDP executive folks say to us and what they actually do? It's all very interesting and in my opinion, the lack of action of the GOA is without any sort of merit.
I mean government--can do anything it wants to do and yet there are no signs of loyalty either to the citizens in general or to these citizens in particular. Where is the bullshit monitor of the workers who belong to AUPE? Can they see that the bullshitting going--that the NDP MLAs care--they really care--but cannot do anything--- is due to the lack of interest of the NDP folks they hired who are not standing by them? Or do they believe that the NDP folks they hired to represent them is in some mysterious way still representing them and how?
I am curious. So much dissonance, lack of loyalty and bullshit. It's a good issue to write many posts on.


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http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/former-alberta-health-services-ceo-vickie-kaminski-says-she-resigned-due-to-ndp-political-interference-1.35221099



EXCLUSIVE

Former Alberta Health Services CEO Vickie Kaminski says she resigned due to NDP political interference

Confidential document alleges NDP interference in AUPE negotiations, Calgary EMS dispatch plan

By Jennie Russell, Charles Rusnell, CBC News Posted: Apr 05, 2016 6:07 PM MT Last Updated: Apr 06, 2016 7:12 AM MT
Vickie Kaminski (left) resigned as CEO of Alberta Health Services because of what she said was unacceptable political interference from Health Minister Sarah Hoffman and deputy minister Carl Amrhein.
Vickie Kaminski (left) resigned as CEO of Alberta Health Services because of what she said was unacceptable political interference from Health Minister Sarah Hoffman and deputy minister Carl Amrhein. (CBC)
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About The Author

Photo of Charles Rusnell, Jennie Russell
Charles Rusnell, Jennie Russell
Investigative reporters
Charles Rusnell and Jennie Russell are reporters with CBC Investigates, the award-winning investigative unit of CBC Edmonton. Their journalism in the public interest is widely credited with forcing accountability, transparency and democratic change in Alberta. Send tips in confidence to cbcinvestigates@cbc.ca. @charlesrusnell @jennierussell_

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Former Alberta Health Services chief executive officer Vickie Kaminski resigned because she believed she could no longer independently do her job as political interference worsened under the new NDP government and Health Minister Sarah Hoffman.
Kaminski's Nov. 25, 2015, resignation letter — obtained exclusively by CBC News — reveals the veteran health-care executive felt her professional reputation was at risk because political considerations repeatedly trumped proper, evidence-based management of Alberta's health system.
'Many (examples of political interference) are simply rooted in an ideology of the new government that does not allow AHS to do what needs to be, and should be done.'- Vickie Kaminski, in her resignation letter
"There are many examples of how this has played out over the past several months," she said. "Some of the examples transcend both the former government and the newly elected government of Alberta.
"More recently however, many (examples of political interference) are simply rooted in an ideology of the new government that does not allow AHS to do what needs to be, and should be done," Kaminski stated in the resignation letter, addressed to Linda Hughes, the incoming chair of the AHS board of directors, and AHS official administrator David Carpenter.
Kaminski provided several examples of political interference and unethical behaviour, including:

Government 'blocking' good management practices

In the letter, Kaminski said the political interference in AUPE bargaining and Calgary ambulance dispatch represented only a few "particularly troubling" examples among many.
She told Hughes and the AHS board of directors they may also wish to review briefing notes related to "linen, laundry and food services outsourcing, Edmonton and North Zone Lab Services, workforce initiatives that are simply everyday good management practices that the government is now blocking.
"All the items have solid business plans, are more effective and efficient, and would save significant public dollars," Kaminski wrote. "Even though we have identified the right things to do, and the right way to do them, we are being stopped."
Kaminski, reached through email, declined comment. Amrhein did not respond to an interview request.
In an interview Tuesday evening, Hoffman said she had never seen Kaminski's letter until CBC News showed it to her, and she insisted she was never told that Kaminski had resigned due to what she viewed as political interference in AHS.
Hoffman said she knew Kaminski was frustrated by her repeated requests for evidence to support recommendations related to the mix of private and public delivery of health care services that was being recommended.
But Hoffman said she considered those requests for evidence simply to be "good governance.
"I understand that from the tone of the letter she feels there was interference; I think it was governing," Hoffman said.
AHS has historically operated as an arm's-length agency from the Alberta Health ministry. AHS is governed by an appointed board of directors. With a budget of about $13 billion, it is the largest health authority in Canada. With 110,000 employees, it is the province's largest employer.
The health authority has a troubled history of senior executive turnover, at least some related to political interference in its operations. When the government hired Kaminski — a registered nurse with an MBA and 35 years of management experience — in March 2014, she became the fifth chief executive officer (CEO) in five years.
When her resignation was officially announced Nov. 27, 2015, two days after writing her internal resignation letter, Kaminski publicly stated her departure was a "personal decision." But her letter paints a picture of escalating political interference stemming directly from the health minister's office.
Vickie Kaminski

'More in voice mode'

In the letter, Kaminski said she had become increasingly concerned about communications between the Alberta Health ministry, through Amrhein, and AHS.
"With more and more frequency, cryptic emails are accompanied by the phrase 'more in voice mode' meaning there should not be any email trail," she wrote.
'It has begun to feel very much like an environment lacking in trust and transparency.'- Vickie Kaminski, in her resignation letter
"This verbal communication often contains specific direction with no substantiating documentation. I have taken to documenting the calls, and making notes that I often send back to the deputy (minister). It has begun to feel very much like an environment lacking in trust and transparency."
Kaminski also told Hughes and Carpenter in the letter that she was "apprehensive that (the AHS board) will not be allowed to function as a board should, especially since the regulations were quietly changed to allow government to appoint the clerk of executive council to the authority's board.
"This decision removes any illusions about whether or not the Government of Alberta will continue to overly influence the work of AHS or that there is any degree of independence," she wrote.
"As I recently told the Minister of Health: if all AHS activities are going to be micromanaged by the government, and if all decisions I make are having to be reviewed and vetted by the minister before they can be acted upon, then there are too many decision makers," Kaminski wrote.
Vickie Kaminski

NDP politically interfered in AUPE contract negotiations

The letter details how the NDP government repeatedly interfered in contract negotiations with the AUPE both in terms of timing and the wage increase offered.
Kaminski said the previous Tory government had mandated a zero per cent offer for several AUPE contracts, including general support services and auxiliary nursing staff. That caused negotiations to break down and the union filed a labour board complaint against AHS.
'We were given a mandate of one per cent per year, for three years — far less than any other union has received, far less than government gave its own employees.'- Vickie Kaminski, in her resignation letter
When the NDP took power, both sides were optimistic a fair offer would be made. But she said that never happened despite repeated attempts by herself and others.
In late October 2015, the deputy minister asked her to get everyone quickly back to the bargaining table. She said this was done based on a "promise of a reasonable mandate, akin to settlements with other unions and reflective of what we were accruing for this union's anticipated salary increase.
"The reason for getting negotiations re-established quickly was to avoid any embarrassment for (Premier Rachel Notley) when she attended the AUPE (annual general meeting) in October," she wrote.
But Kaminski said once both sides were back at the bargaining table, it became clear the NDP government would not allow AHS to make a reasonable offer.
"We were given a mandate of one per cent per year, for three years — far less than any other union has received, far less than government gave its own employees, and far less than we are accruing for wage settlements."
Vickie Kaminski

Political interference in Calgary ambulance-dispatch plan

Kaminski details how AHS had developed a business plan under the previous Tory government to end its contract as of April 2015 with the City of Calgary to provide ambulance-dispatch service.
AHS would instead provide an independent service similar to those across the rest of province, in line with what Kaminski said were the best practices for EMS dispatch across Canada.
The Tories, however, did not want the ambulance-dispatch issue to become a "provincial election football" so the plan to notify Calgary of the change was delayed until after the May 2015 election.
Carl Amrhein
In her letter, Kaminski said health deputy minister Carl Amrhein gave her specific directions verbally so there would not be a paper trail. (CBC)
Kaminski said after the election, Hoffman and her then deputy minister, Janet Davidson, confirmed the plan would proceed. She and Davidson's successor, Carl Amrhein, subsequently notified Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, through a phone call, that the change was coming.
"The very next day, the government stopped us from moving this plan forward," Kaminski wrote.
"The Minister of Health is now dealing directly with Mayor Nenshi and, in our latest meeting, informed me that AHS will not be moving this forward in the immediate future despite the costs the organization is incurring (unused staff and space) and the fact that continuing with the current service arrangement with the City of Calgary is costing $6 million more than it would cost if provided in-house."
The government has publicly revealed the province had built a dispatch centre in Calgary to handle EMS calls separately from police and fire and is paying $60,000 in monthly rent since April 2015, although it is not in use yet.
But Kaminski, in her letter, said AHS leased the space for at least 20 years at an estimated cost of $750,000 a year. She said a "large number of staff" had already been hired.

Kaminski: political interference makes CEO job useless

Kaminski said in her resignation letter that she had built a professional reputation in health care in Canada for "taking on big challenges, doing the right things, and doing things right. I find myself in a position in Alberta that no longer allows me to perform that way."
'Therefore, before my professional reputation suffers irreparable harm, I have decided to leave.'- Vickie Kaminski, in her resignation letter
On the final page of her letter, Kaminski said the job she had been hired to perform as CEO no longer existed.
"Therefore, before my professional reputation suffers irreparable harm, I have decided to leave prior to the end of my three-year term by invoking the notice clause in my contract," she wrote.
By resigning midway through her three-year-contract, Kaminski, who was paid $540,000 a year, effectively forfeited another full year of salary in severance.
She is now chief transformation officer with South Australia Health in Adelaide, Australia.
AHS is still searching for her replacement.
If you have more information about this story, or a tip about another story, email us in confidence at cbcinvestigates@cbc.ca



Learn about the issues in for-profit seniors care: www.stoptheripoff.ca

http://www.aupe.org/stop-ripoff/


PUBLIC FUNDING, PRIVATE CARE

Private operators receive millions of taxpayer dollars to build and operate seniors care facilities in this province. But where is that money going? And is it really meeting the needs of Alberta seniors? A growing number of Albertans are demanding answers.
We need your help! Click here to download a petition calling on the government to increase the transparency around the use of public money by private operators.




NO TRANSPARENCY

Private seniors care operators are not required to publicly disclose how they are using taxpayer funds. They have even launched court battles to prevent this information from coming to light after Alberta’s Privacy Commissioner ordered its release in 2014.




CUTTING CORNERS, CUTTING CARE

Current government regulations allow funding for front-line seniors care workers to be held back by operators as profit or diverted for other purposes. This encourages operators to cut corners, and that means cutting care for vulnerable seniors in residential care.



STOP THE RIP-OFF!

Private seniors care operators provide less care, are not as efficient and are not at all transparent compared to publicly-run facilities. So why are these private facilities receiving more and more taxpayer dollars?



POINTS WEST LIVING COLD LAKE

Too often it is left to workers in private seniors care facilities to demand accountability from their employers and insist on respectful treatment of both workers and residents alike. That’s what’s happening at Points West Living Cold Lake, but instead of addressing the workers’ concerns about short-staffing, scheduling and training, the company has locked out its regular employees in a bid to drive down wages and working conditions. The resolve of these committed frontline workers is exposing the deeper crisis in Alberta’s seniors care system that allows for-profit operators to pocket public funds with no transparency or accountability. Let Points West Living and government representatives know that this situation is unacceptable. Use the form letter below or change the text to include a personal message.

















Awareness of the #ColdLakeLockout is growing. Quebec City based activist and author Nora Loreto recently showed her solidarity. Thanks Nora! 180+ days and counting: www.stoptheripoff.ca


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Solidarity - Day 180 of the #ColdLakeLockout
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Cindy Ross How are the workers of Cold Lake Points West doing? I heard they had their positions terminated? How does this company get away with this? Is there no protection for Locked Out workers??

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2
5 hrs
AUPE - Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Seniors care workers have been locked out for more than 180 days now Cindy, and are still standing strong for quality care. And yes, their employer sent termination letters days after new labour legislation was introduced in Alberta. It's a cowardly move, and AUPE has filed a complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board Friday, asserting the move is illegal. The union is requesting an injunction to stop the contracting out.

They need your support in brining awareness to what's happening and are calling on people to send a letter to PWL's Directors at www.stoptheripoff.ca 

More on the termination letters: http://bit.ly/2qOUq5J 

Here's the latest: 
 LATEST #ColdLakeLockout UPDATE: http://bit.ly/2scc7x4 
 NEW NON COMPLIANCE FINDING BY AHS: http://bit.ly/2kS8lVV

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2
4 hrs
Henry Wakoluk ✊️

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3 hrs
Julie Ali Troubling that the employer was able to come to an agreement with their employees at Vegreville but not at Cold Lake. Why? Could it be that the vocal advocacy results in this disruption in civility between employer and employees? If so this is retribution and should not be tolerated by the GOA. And where is the NDP government in this matter? Why the silence?

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This is what solidarity looks like in Cold Lake, Alberta.
Despite all the ups and downs, AUPE members at PWL Cold Lake keep fighting for better care for their residents. Over 170 days of the #ColdLakeLockout and still strong.
Learn about the issues: www.stoptheripoff.ca


-0:50

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2:14 pm. Hail. The mysterious zipper in the sky opened and a drench of water. There are small hail stones rattling on the deck. No doubt my rhubarb plants with their wide hats of leaves will be smashed like glass bottles against the curb.
The hail storm at least happened now before we set off for the mountains. Last week I had to ship through a sea of rain.
June sure is a wet month. Right now it feels about right to nap.
Younger boy is finishing off his blueberries and sandwich. He mowed the lawn and trimmed it just in time for the deluge. Ten million dandelions wait like savages to overtake the pristine tame lawn that the barbarians are biding their time to savage.
The world is very pretty. Even with hail pelting down and the discontented rumble of the stomach of sky with the thunder breaking plates outside it is still very pretty.
Between the breaking of plates of thunder and the catapulting stones of the hail a dredge of floury sunlight glints through. We may be fine for hiking if the sun wins out.
Inside the mellow writing room the work on the Cold Lake terminations at the Points West Living corporation goes on. It's an interesting business about power and lack of power; of residents like chickens in a coop and of families wondering about the mess.
It's the way it is in Alberta. Gotta accept it. And document it.
For the most part I don't think unions do much for workers. It's a matter of the numbers usually that determine the effectiveness of unions.
In other words, you can bring problems to the union folks and if these problems are care issues the union usually (in my opinion) does nothing to help the whistleblowers. Why would they? The union for the most part is there to help employers come to settlement and while they are supposedly for the workers, they usually will assist the employer to lay off workers that the employer decides to lay off. The union is there to make the terminations flawless and without any sort of consequences for the employer.
In the Points West Living terminations however, the union is present to do the reverse matter--to make the terminations less flawless. Why? In this case the union was making an agreement and this agreement was not for termination but for work. So I guess in this particular case the union is useful for workers although I don't know how the union can do anything about the terminations.
The employer can fire the entire crew if the employer wants to do this. There is nothing in any agreement that I have read that says that they can't do this. I mean it doesn't look good for the employer to do this because it is clear to the public or at least the public that is interested in these matters that this appears to be a punitive action since the same employer was able to finalize a deal with workers at the Vegreville site. The only difference between the Vegreville site and the Cold Lake site appears to be the vocal advocacy of the workers at the Cold Lake site.
The union -in this case AUPE--will do it's duty by the workers but for the life of me I can't see how anything will come of any further complaints.
Unions do matter but don't expect unions to be there for you when an employer decides to prune its work force. It's an exception to the rule that the union will try to get the employer to retain you. Nope. Unions are there to make life easier for employers. In the case in Cold Lake the union is trying to help the employees probably because this employer seems to be unwilling to use the union to make life easier for itself.
In any case, I doubt the union will be able to do much for the poor employees. I doubt that the GOA will do anything since it has already shown its true colours of lack of loyalty to the union folks in AUPE by the settlement that the NDP folks forced the AHS folks to put forth. I doubt that the citizens of Cold Lake will yap very much because really what are they going to be able to do? In Sundre, they were able to kick GOA rump because the long term care beds being erased were managed by AHS and citizens dissented about beds that they were paying for out of their taxes. Even then they did not get to keep all the long term care beds.
In this case, the union is useful in one particular way. It is showing us the reality of the situation in the continuing care industry in Alberta. The PCs gave contracts to folks like Points West Living. We don't know the terms of these contracts because such matters are considered "proprietary". We don't know how much money goes to resident care and staffing since this matter is also considered "proprietary". We don't know the staff: resident ratios at all shifts although we have some information about total numbers of permanent and casual staff. We don't know the quality of care since we have no quality audits, no CCHSS audits and we've only got the information provided by the staff themselves. The union has tried to provide more information via the social media and media route and staff certainly have provided information about the reasons for the dispute.
Yup. Unions do serve a purpose in Alberta. Mostly it's to show us how it is in the continuing care system. This is probably the only information we will get about labour conditions in the continuing care system--and it is not pretty.
OPINION
Why unions still matter
By Jeremy Appel, Whitecourt Star
Monday, May 8, 2017 2:33:55 MDT PM
Points West Living’s Cold Lake facility has been the scene of an ongoing labour strike with AUPE members most recently being joined by Edmonton’s Health Science’s Association of Alberta.

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Every year, workers of the world celebrate May Day on the first day of that month.
With the Alberta NDP government working on amending the Alberta Employment Standards Code and Alberta Labour Relations Code — the first dealing with non-unionized and the latter with unionized workplaces — it’s important to remember the benefits of unionization across the industrial world.
Alberta Labour Minister Christina Grey announced her government’s intention to amend these laws in March and, although details are still murky, it’s reasonable to assume that the update will have the effect of making it easier for Albertan workers to unionize, given the NDP’s strong support in the labour movement.
It’s often argued that unions are no longer relevant in our globalized world, with the closure of factories in the west, where the labour movement has traditionally made its gains, and their re-opening in the low-wage Third World countries.
Like the rest of the West, Canadian manufacturing is on the decline, but with that comes increased demand for service sector employment.
According to Statistics Canada, as of 2016, there are 18,079,900 people in the Canadian workforce. Of these, 3,833,000 work in the goods producing sector — manufacturing, construction, forestry, oil and gas, etc. — while 14,246,900 work in the service sector — teachers, nurses, tour guides, servers, etc.
In Alberta, a province well known for its natural resource extraction, the past year, from March 2016 to March 2017, shows a 1.8 per cent increase in the service sector and a 5.4 per cent contraction in manufacturing, according to Statistics Canada.
These workers deserve the ability to bargain collectively for the purpose of obtaining a higher standard of living just as much as any.
But, some say, Alberta with its mere 10 per cent unionization rate, as opposed to 16 per cent nationally, has the highest wages in the country — 17 per cent higher than the national average.
Correlation, however, doesn’t necessarily mean causation. This position fails to take into account the province’s relatively high cost of living due to historically high prices for our primary natural resource, oil.
Of course, that’s no longer the case. But, Alberta’s cost of living, at 136.8 on the consumer price index, remains well above the Canadian figure of 129.9.
I see no issue with measures to enable workers to organize with the goal of collectively keeping up with the province’s cost of living.
One possible move to make unionization easier, that’s been especially controversial, is allowing open union drives that require workers to sign cards in public, rather than private balloting as has traditionally been the case.
The Manning Centre has been especially critical of this potential policy change.
In a May 3, opinion piece written for the Edmonton Journal, policy analyst Colin Craig noted the common tendency for unions to overestimate support for their drives. Craig cited Alberta government data from 2009-2015 that shows 31 instances of an at least 15 per cent decrease in support for unionization between the card signing and private vote.
He attributes this significant drop to union intimidation, but this is based on an erroneous assumption that only organized labour pressures employees.
What was management doing in the same time period? Perhaps the decrease in support was a result of their hardball tactics. Craig doesn’t take this possibility into account.
With every effort in unionization there are two sides — organized labour and management — vying for the workers’ confidence. Each side is equally capable of engaging in unsavoury manoeuvres
Unions negotiate benefits that all their workers reap, regardless of whether they support unionization or not.
For this reason, it is vital that there be a public process by which a union can gauge collective support free from the potential influence of employers.

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