Months after what the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) referred to as intense negotiations, an arbitration agreement has been reached with the provincial government.
AUPE represents 22,000 Alberta government employees, including correction workers, social workers and park employees.
The groups have been mediating since March after talks broke down.
“To be clear, I never thought we would get to this point,” said Guy Smith, AUPE president.
“As an employer, the government is, in our opinion, committed and determined to get several concessions from our members,” Smith said.
Discounts sought by the government include salary reversals, reductions in overtime pay, plus benefits cuts, among other things. According to an AUPE news release, these discounts are no longer on the table.
According to an AUPE news release, here are some of the things the membership will vote on in the coming weeks:
- “The 1.25% wage increase is effective January 1, 2023.
- Salary increases of at least 1.5% with an additional 0.5% increase based on economic factors effective September 1, 2021.
- As a result of a significant expansion of police duties, responsibilities and risks, the 8% pay increase for duty-bearing employees as part of the Rural Alberta Provincial Comprehensive Defense (RAPID) response is set for April 1, 2021 and remains in place for as long as RAPID remains.
According to Smith, steps have been taken to prepare for work order if needed, including training hundreds of picket captains.
“We have put all those processes in place and we will continue to do so until we know that this is a done deal [do so], ”He said.
“I think the government has seen our decision. Obviously, we don’t want to be on the picket lines. Nobody does. We’ve decided to be ready.”
Union members still have to vote on the deal. The Approval Committee recommends that members vote in favor.
Smith says the contract details will be sent by mail, and because of COVID-19, they will also use the mail-in ballot system for the vote. He expected to know the results by mid-December.
Smith said he thinks it signals a change in the government’s approach to other negotiations.
Negotiations are now underway, including workers in health and postsecondary institutions and several other groups.
“There is some concern that this proposed disposition may affect those tables as well, because we are seeing discounts across the board at those tables,” he said.
“We hope this reflects improved negotiations in other areas,” Smith said.
AUPE is holding virtual town hall meetings for members with questions or concerns about the deal. These are expected to be held in November.