How Alberta Nurses
In Alberta, the Provincial Staff Nurse Committee (PSNC) took
over the role of negotiating work conditions and salaries with nurses’ employers.
Bob Donahue was the director of the Committee and immediately
set about creating long-range planning goals for the collective bargaining
program, including a 150% increase in the budget to support collective
position was overwhelmingly endorsed by 84 of the 86 Staff Nurse Associations
at their first general meeting on February 23, 1977. But the Alberta
Association of Registered Nurses (AARN) Provincial Council blocked changes
to the way membership dues were shared with the PSNC.
The only way the PSNC could effect the changes it desired was to use the decision-making
mechanisms of a general AARN meeting. The staff nurses could easily win a majority
vote. But the Provincial Council for some time refused to call a general
Finally, on May 6, 1977, the AARN called a general meeting
to be held immediately after the Annual Meeting. 1300 nurses attended this meeting in Calgary
and represented the widespread concerns of nurses on the recent events and the
proposed splitting up of the two divisions of the AARN. The meeting was
filled with tension and confrontation, and finally Gurty Chinell announced the
decision of the PSNC to form an independent organization, and requested the support
of the AARN so as to protect existing Collective Agreements. Adjournment was
abruptly moved and seconded, and the United Nurses of Alberta was born.