An independent arbitrator has granted the union representing about 23,000 general support services workers at Alberta Health Services a three-year contract that includes a boost to their health spending accounts.

The contract increases the employees’ health spending account to $750 from $600. It also granted the workers a retroactive salary increase, dating back to April 1, 2014, with a two per cent increase in the first and second years and a one per cent increase in the third year.

The employees, who are members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, include staff in information technology, records management, food services and facilities maintenance, as well as pharmacy and therapy assistants.

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While the union accepts the arbitrator’s ruling, it’s unfortunate the parties couldn’t reach a deal sooner, said Guy Smith, president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, in a press release. “Since negotiations began, the employer’s treatment of these members, who are mostly women working part-time, has been discouraging.”

According to the union, the two years of negotiations with the employer included two rounds of mediation, two labour board complaints and binding arbitration.

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