SAINT PAUL, AB—After finalizing the vote count on September 26, 130 workers at the St. Paul Abilities Network (SPAN) have voted to join the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).
“We’re so happy to have these workers as part of our union family,” says Mike Dempsey, a vice-president at AUPE. “When workers stand together, we can win the dignity and respect that we all deserve on the job.”
SPAN is a non-profit organization with a network of homes—16 in Saint Paul and one in Vegreville—where workers provide support for residents with diverse needs, including brain injuries, ADHD, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. SPAN workers help residents with activities, transport them to appointments, support with finances, and more. All non-management staff in those homes, as well as workers in the Saint Paul headquarters, will now be members of AUPE.
“Every worker wants respect on the job, and these workers got organized together to demand it,” Dempsey says. “Solidarity is our greatest power as workers, and they’re exercising it.”
The workers voted overwhelmingly in favour of unionizing with AUPE, which Dempsey says gives them a strong mandate to negotiate a fair first contract. The vote was conducted by mail.
“The workers at SPAN know what they want,” Dempsey says. “They want clear communication from management, a safe work environment, and a voice in the workplace. These workers give their whole lives to caring for residents in SPAN homes, and they want to make the homes better places to work and live.”
“Better working conditions for staff means better care for residents,” Dempsey says. “These workers got organized because they care about their jobs, because they care about the services they provide. Together, they’re going to make SPAN better for everyone.”
With the unionization vote strongly in favour, the workers’ next step is to negotiate a first collective agreement. They are already getting organized for it, says Dempsey.
“Signing a union card is just the first step,” Dempsey says. “We’ve still got a lot of road ahead of us—but these workers aren’t walking it alone. There are 95,000 AUPE members across Alberta behind them. Welcome to the union.”
Mike Dempsey is available for interviews. Contact Jon Milton, Communications Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org