Union drive hits hurdles as Alpha House fights dirty

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Union drive hits hurdles as Alpha House fights dirty
CUPE accuses social service provider of firing key organizer, intimidating staff

CALGARY – An attempt to unionize about 300 employees of Alpha House Society is turning ugly after the agency fired a key union organizer and interfered in attempts to organize a union.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has filed an unfair labour practices complaint with the Alberta Labour Board alleging the agency threatened and intimidated employees after the union filed an application to represent employees.

Alpha house is a not-for-profit society providing addiction and housing services to people in Calgary and Lethbridge. A Labour Board certified vote determining the fate of the union drive wraps up this week.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill says that within two days of CUPE’s application with the board, Alpha House fired a key union organizer, handed out large bonuses to employees, and sent memos to employees threatening wages and working conditions if the union succeeds.

The terminated union organizer had received a glowing performance review in December and had no issues brought to his attention since then.

“This is union busting, and Alpha House should be ashamed of itself,” said CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill. “Instead of firing union organizers without cause and banging out threatening staff memos, the society needs to take a ‘hands-off’ approach to this and leave the decision to unionize where it belongs – in the hands of employees.”

“Employees who work with some of Calgary’s most needy and vulnerable deserve the right to decide their own fate, free of intimidation and bullying.”

CUPE is seeking the reinstatement of the wrongfully dismissed employee and a declaration from the Labour Board declaring that Alpha House violated the law. Gill said he also wants the Society to commit to a neutral stance on the unionization of its employees.